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NASA Social Participants Get an Inside Look at Space Station Science
June 18, 2013
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Johnson Space Center welcomed 30 social media users to learn about research on the International Space Station, tour facilities, attend the Expedition 36 mission briefing and, of course, share it with all of their followers.

The participants were Web developers, science teachers, researchers and dedicated NASA fans who traveled to Houston from all around the country. Nine states and Washington, D.C. were represented, the farthest participant traveling 1,600 miles from Boston to attend the event.

The day kicked off with Tara Ruttley and Liz Warren from the International Space Station Program Science Office and Robbie Hampton from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) talking to participants about the science performed aboard the station and how researchers can get involved. Then tours of the Soyuz and space station mock-ups in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility with Chief Engineer and Soyuz Integration Lead Mark Bowman and astronaut Mike Fossum helped participants see where it all takes place. One participant, Bobby Jones, even hosted a live Google+ hangout from his point of view in the mock-ups using Google Glass, a wearable technology that puts data right in front of one’s eyes when worn.

At the Mission Control Center, participants were delighted to see a special welcome message for them on the big screen and eager to ask Flight Director Ed Van Cise about the emergency spacewalk to repair the ammonia leak. Van Cise explained that he was able to lead with decisions about safety in large part because he had a team of experts ready to provide any necessary data.

The knowledge and experience participants gained throughout the day about science being done on station and through spacewalks culminated when they got the opportunity to ask Program Manager Michael Suffredini, Lead Flight Director Gary Horlacher and Associate Program Scientist Tara Ruttley questions about the upcoming mission during the Expedition 36 Mission Overview Press Conference on NASA TV.

Many of the experiments on Expedition 36 focus on preparing the human body for long-duration flights, so the participants got an up close look at workout equipment like the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device and Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, commonly known as “COLBERT,” which keep astronauts strong.

Then, Payload Operations directors at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., talked to participants during a video conference about how experiments are coordinated by them on the ground and executed by astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The last stop of the day, the Neuroscience Labs, is actually one of the first places astronauts go when they return from space. From measuring their virtual rover driving skills to finding their balance, participants got to try out some of the tests that astronauts Chris Hadfield and Tom Marshburn did just days before.

The goal of NASA Socials is to allow people who regularly interact with each other via social networks to meet in person and discuss space exploration. This NASA Social offered a unique opportunity for people interested in research to learn about what is going on aboard the space station and how they can get involved while sharing it with their followers at the same time.

To find out more about how you can get involved with NASA Socials, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/social/index.html

By Hayley Fick

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Participants learn how the COLBERT treadmill keeps astronauts fit in space. Image credit: NASA
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A NASA Social participant takes a “selfie” in front of the Orion mock-up in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility. Image credit: NASA
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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator