NASA EDGE Show 5: NASA 101

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NASA EDGE Show 5: NASA 101
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Show 5: NASA 101

Featuring: Geocaching, NASA 101


CHRIS: So you're going back to school huh?

BLAIR: Yes, back to school. Except this time it's all NASA, NASA 101 in fact.

CHRIS: You know the fist NASA 101 class will be geocaching in order to earn their diplomas.

BLAIR: That's what I understand.

CHRIS: Cool. Hey, so are you going to check the space weather this time as opposed to your debacle in the dismal swamp?

BLAIR: I am happy to report that there is absolutely zero magnetospherence in the space weather forecast for the next several days.

CHRIS: Oh excellent.

BLAIR: In fact, I am looking forward to getting back into the world of academia.

CHRIS: Well, we have the new NASA 101 brochure. Why don't you check that out and use it as background information for the course.

BLAIR: A little interstellar reading.

CHRIS: It might help you pass.

BLAIR: Perfect. I hope so.

CHRIS: Well good luck to you.

BLAIR: Thank you sir.

CHRIS: Hey, welcome to NASA Edge.

BLAIR: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.

CHRIS: I'm Chris, your host.

BLAIR: And I'm Blair, your co-host.

CHRIS: We're here at the Broadmoor Country Club in Colorado Springs, attending the 23rd National Space Symposium. And we're here to promote NASA Edge.

BLAIR: You know, I'm really looking forward to, as a NASA Edge person, getting on the inside through NASA 101. Getting back to the books, studying real hard, learning the ins and outs of NASA.

CHRIS: Well, I've already talked to Rory Cooper, who is the architect of NASA 101.

BLAIR: And… when did you talk… to him about…? Where was I?

CHRIS: You know you're on the outside of NASA trying to get on the inside.

BLAIR: Yeah.

CHRIS: And you're doing a great job! And that's wonderful.

BLAIR: Thank you. That means something.

CHRIS: But since you're on the outside, you're just on a need to know basis.

BLAIR: Well, I really need to know how this interview went.

CHRIS: Well, let's go check it out.

BLAIR: Alright.

CHRIS: So, Rory how did you come up with the idea of NASA 101?

RORY: It really started in my first couple weeks of working at NASA. I was in a meeting preparing for the Stardust mission to return to Earth. As I was continuing to the meeting, I kept referring to the "thing." When is the "thing" going to get to Earth? Finally a couple of scientists and engineers looked at me and said, "You know it did travel 3 billion miles. You could call it stardust." That's when I realized that not just me but probably a lot of people out there don't know a lot about all the missions that NASA does. I looked to the creative folks down in Exploration Systems and said how can we build something that can educate the public about every little mission and every great thing that we do? So, we came up with this great booklet, that is also interactive. It includes a CD-Rom that has screen savers, videos, and really talks about what NASA's been doing but also what we're going to do.

CHRIS: What are some of the key messages that you want our viewers to come away with?

RORY: The real key message about NASA 101 is that NASA does so much to help persons' everyday life. It's not just about the space shuttle going up, although that is one of the extraordinary things we do.

CHRIS: How can we access the 101 materials?

RORY: There are plenty of ways to access it. One of the first and greatest ways to access it is to come to one of the NASA events that happen everyday across the nation. You can pick up a hard copy which is really great. The other way we are going to make sure you can get to it is on the web. And we're going to do that real soon at

CHRIS: We have the very fist NASA 101 class right here. Tell me their progress so far.

RORY: So far they're doing great. I'm really proud of them.

CHRIS: It's actually quite exciting because for their final exam they're going to do a geocaching activity. Have you ever geocached before?

RORY: I've never geocached before.

CHRIS: How 'bout we do this? How about we get you involved with the team to see just how well you do compared to the classmates. Do you think my goofy co-host is up for the task?

RORY: Ah well, I hope he is. And we're really going to try to give him that extra push so he can make the grade.

CHRIS: Well, let's go ahead and see how they do. And later on in the show we'll come back and wrap up on their activity.

RORY: Oh, great. I'm excited.

BLAIR: Wow, Rory's a fascinating guy.

CHRIS: Yeah, he's pretty cool, isn't he?

BLAIR: Yeah. In fact, I'm looking forward to getting to know him and a closer look at NASA 101.

CHRIS: Sounds like a plan.

BLAIR: Yeah. In fact, why don't we take a break and when we come back we'll look at geocaching, what it is and actually how we geocache.

CHRIS: Hey, you're watching NASA Edge.

BLAIR: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.


BLAIR: Welcome back to NASA Edge.

CHRIS: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.

BLAIR: What is geocaching, really?

CHRIS: You're asking me?

BLAIR: No, actually that was a rhetorical question.

CHRIS: Tell you what, as part of you're NASA 101 training why don't you let the viewer out there know what geocaching is all about.

BLAIR: Good idea. Yeah, oral exam here, I can hit it right on the spot here.

CHRIS: Good.

BLAIR: Geocaching, basically a high-tech scavenger hunt using a GPS receiver and some coordinates provided. And you basically go out and find treasure. It's great.

CHRIS: Absolutely.

BLAIR: First, you need coordinates.

CHRIS: Yeah right, which you can get from a friend or the Internet.

BLAIR: You enter those coordinates into a portable hand-held GPS unit and off you go.

CHRIS: No not quite. You need to make sure you double check your coordinates and make sure your GPS is getting a good strong signal.

BLAIR: Right or you may end up in some trouble. If everything is good however, you let the GPS tell you where you are in relation to the cache.

CHRIS: And don't forget, using compass directions and distance, the GPS tracks your movement as you get closer to the cache.

BLAIR: And GPS units aren't perfect. Consumer versions do have a margin of error up to several feet.

CHRIS: But it isn't all about the technology Blair. When you get really close you have to look for visual clues as to where and how the geocache may be hidden.

BLAIR: Right. When you find a normal geocache, you open it up, take something out and put something in.

CHRIS: And you log your visit in some kind of journal. For the NASA 101 activity, it will be a bit different.

BLAIR: Either way geocaching is a great way to use new technology and have fun all at the same time.

CHRIS: And without getting lost.

BLAIR: Oh yeah, you don't get lost with a GPS.

CHRIS: Well, remember dismal swamp.

BLAIR: I don't want to talk about the past.

CHRIS: Okay, I won't bring it up.

BLAIR: Yeah.

CHRIS: What about your cache?

BLAIR: Oh, yeah, yeah, my cache. I placed all the caches for your activity.

CHRIS: Good.

BLAIR: They're already set.

CHRIS: I'm looking forward to that.

BLAIR: I was going to go caching here right after that. I left the coordinates you gave me back at the hotel. So, I got to go get those and then I'll start.

CHRIS: Well, hurry up and then come back.

BLAIR: Okay, I've just got to find my key.

CHRIS: Is he talking about this key? NASA 101 pop quiz.

BLAIR: Yes, I lost my room key.

LADY: Can I see an ID, please?

BLAIR: Oh, sure.

LADY: Thank you. Oh yes, you're the goofy co-host.

LADY: There you go.

BLAIR: What's this?

LADY: NASA 101 pop quiz.

BLAIR: Chris!

LADY: Good luck.


CHRIS: You guys ready?

GROUP: Yeah.

CHRIS: Here's what we're going to do. We have six caches out there. And they are all going to assemble a puzzle, a piece of hardware together. Within each cache, there is also a piece of paper that explains our NASA 101 topics. I'm going to give each of you GPS's and we're going to see how well you do in finding those caches. Now, some of the caches are easy to find. Some are a little bit more challenging. First cache we're going to look for today, the abbreviations is SM. That's your hint. You guys can work together as a team. Each of you have a GPS. If you would like to get some help from your team members, that's fine. There can be no caches in the water. So, no swimming. It's all on dry land. You got your coordinates. You know where you're going to go?

GROUP: Yeah.

CHRIS: Good luck and have fun. Hey, welcome back to NASA Edge, an inside and outside look at all things NASA. We're just giving some final instructions for our first NASA 101 class. We're going to tag along and see how they do.

CHRIS: Our first geocache is getting closer. It looks like the NASA 101 class is doing a pretty good job so far.


CHRIS: Congratulations. Rory gets the first cache.

CHRIS: Pull out the cover with it. There ya go. See what's inside. When you geocache and you have multiple caches, it keeps the track log on your screen. You can always see what your track list is from the beginning. So make sure when you are looking for your new cache it is always the black line.

CHRIS: Alright. Good job. [clapping]

RORY: Getting closer to building a rocket.

CHRIS: This is the fun part about geocaching. You think you have it…

CHRIS: Oooh. They found the cache.

DEBBIE: The adapter ring.

CHRIS: We've picked up two more people in the NASA 101 class. They came late. They were tardy but we'll give them another shot a little bit later. They're tagging along right now.

DEBBIE: I found it.

RORY: Ah, not again.


DEBBIE: We've got the launch board system.

[more laughter]

CHRIS: Hey, this class is doing a great job finding these geocaches. I'm pretty sure they're going to get 100 % correct, however, I'm worried about Blair. He's suppose to be finding a geocache on his own but he hasn't called in awhile. I'm getting a little worried about him. I hope he calls soon.

SOPHIA: Hey, I got it.

CHRIS: Hey, the tardy girl found the cache

SOPHIA: Whoo hoo!

SOPHIA: Okay, this is the upper stage.

CHRIS: Great job, NASA 101 class. We have one more cache. You're five for five. Rhett is zero for five. Let's see if we can help him out maybe.


SOPHIA: … as I'm wandering in the opposite direction.

RORY: I got it and broke it.


CHRIS: Six out of six, not bad.

RORY: Yeah.

CHRIS: You've done a great job.

RORY: You want to hold it just to see what it feels like?

RHETT: Can we reenact that?

CHRIS: And just to let you know, our buddy Rhett here, he got an "A" for effort. Unfortunately, he didn't get a cache this time. Congratulations guys. Good job.


FRANKLIN: This is NASA Edge Studios. This is Franklin speaking, how may I help you?

BLAIR: Franklin, It's Blair. I'm desperate. I've lost my shoe. I haven't showered in 72 hours. Chris has got my key and he's only given me coordinates. I need help otherwise I'm going to fail NASA 101.

FRANKLIN: Sounds like our good friend Chris is giving you an opportunity to work your way into the inside of NASA. I have a little bit of NASA news that might be a little bit of information you can use to take back to Chris. And possibly some of it as extra credit to get your key back, so you can get inside and take a shower.

BLAIR: I'll take absolutely anything Franklin. Just give me a moment to forge some writing utensils and papyrus or something.


FRANKLIN: I'm going to start off with This Month In Exploration. You can find this information at the website under the heading of "This Month in Exploration."

BLAIR: I'll keep that in mind but please do tell.

FRANKLIN: NASA will launch the Dawn spacecraft to study two of the largest protoplanets, Ceres and Vesta. Protoplanets are moon-sized planet embryos within proplanetary discs. They are believed to form out of kilometer-size planetesimals that attract each other gravitationally and collide. According to the planet information theory, protoplanets perturb each other's orbits slightly and thus collide in giant impacts to gradually form real planets.

BLAIR: Wow, so they're perturbed.

FRANKLIN: Quite upset.

BLAIR: Yes, I understand. And thank you for bringing up an uncomfortable loss from my fifth grade spelling bee.

FRANKLIN: [laughing] It's planet rage.

BLAIR: That's the Dawn spacecraft, correct?

FRANKLIN: That is correct. You can find that information at "This Month in Exploration."

BLAIR: Perfect. Anything else you can help me with?

FRANKLIN: Do you know anything about the Cassini spacecraft?

BLAIR: The Cassini spacecraft… I believe… This is another test but I believe it has something to do with Saturn.

FRANKLIN: Alright, hey. You might be on your way to "Extra-Credit Land." The Cassini spacecraft will be flying over the unlit side of Saturn's rings. The Cassini spacecraft captures Saturn's glow represented in brilliants shades of electric blue, sapphire, and mint green, like the photo you see on your screen right now. Can you see it Blair?

BLAIR: No, but there is some mint here on the ground that I've been chewing on for sustenance.

FRANKLIN: It's some really nice pictures. And again, you go to the NASA website and plug in "Cassini." You will see the information on the Cassini satellite and these nice photos from Saturn.

BLAIR: Franklin, correct me if I'm wrong. Don't you need special glasses to view these photos?

FRANKLIN: Actually the pictures are right on the NASA website there, visible to the naked eye. And the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team based at the University of Arizona developed these photos.

BLAIR: Great. Good bunch of guys out there. Do you have anything that might help someone physically or perhaps medically?

FRANKLIN: Are you having a baby?

BLAIR: Ah, no! No but I'm being raised by a pack of wolves.

FRANKLIN: Well, I want to tell you something about ultrasound technology. And then some NASA technology that are coming together to help detect and treat heart disease and strokes. NASA Space technology is helping doctors diagnose and monitor treatments for hardening of the arteries in its early stages before it causes heart attacks and strokes. The standard carotid ultrasound measures plaque and blood flow within the artery. When an ultrasound is used with this NASA software, the test measures the thickness of the inner two layers of the carotid artery. So it's very similar to the type of ultrasound that is given to women while their pregnant to see the baby in their womb but here it's used to check out the arteries.

BLAIR: So you get a really good idea what's going on in the arteries so you can better prepare for not eating a ton of…

FRANKLIN: [laughing] The kind of food you would probably want to have right now when you're out in the woods.

BLAIR: Exactly. 'Cause I'm dealing with strict fiber right now. Let me tell you it's bad news.

FRANKLIN: [laughing]

BLAIR: You laugh but I'm telling you, it's rough out here. No pun intended.

FRANKLIN: Well, I think this is some really, really good information. If you get to the NASA website, look it up, as well as, a lot of other good information. And maybe take it back to Chris and impress him with you "inner" NASA knowledge. You might possible get some extra credit on your NASA 101 pop quiz, get a key to your room, get in, take a shower, change your clothes and get warm.

BLAIR: Excellent. That is a good idea. I'm etching down some more notes here. And I'm going to do that. I'm going to take that back because NASA 101 is about to finish up. We're going to get together, if I can get back there. And put together the model pieces that they found in the geocaching exercise and talk about the great things NASA is doing. Hopefully, if I relay some of this to them, I'll graduate with honors… perhaps, maybe. I'll get an "A" for effort.

[group talking]

CHRIS: Do you know where Rhett's at?

DEBBIE: Rhett.

RORY: I think he was a little embarrassed.

CHRIS: Oh, because he didn't find a cache?

DEBBIE: Because he didn't find any.

RORY: He might be hiding somewhere. He's probably a hundred feet from here right now.


CHRIS: Here ya go.

RORY: Alright. Now all we need to do is put the piece…

CHRIS: Wait a minute.

RORY: Something's not right about this.

CHRIS: Yeah, there's another piece that's missing. Ah… wait a minute. Hey Blair, what happened to the other piece.

BLAIR: Important note to self, you cannot place geocaches indoors. GPS units only work outdoors. I hope Chris does not really come down on me for this. It might affect my grade. That extra credit has got to come through… got to help.

DEBBIE: Okay, I found the launch ?? system. And the message inside was "NASA looks for ways to improve our life on the planet. Scientists conduct research to learn more about weather and climate change. NASA now has a train of satellites to gain a better understanding of key factors related to climate change.

DEBBIE: I also found the crew module.

CHRIS: Okay.

DEBBIE: The message inside was "Robotic missions to Mars have revealed evidence that water still flows occasionally on the surface of the red planet. Future robotic missions will also pave the way for human exploration of Mars.

RORY: The message that came with the service module was "Scientists are still searching for answers to questions about the origin of the solar system. The Cassini and Stardust and New Horizon missions are designed to help us answer those questions.

DEBBIE: The adapter ring right here. And the message was "NASA's begun work on the Orion Crew Exploration vehicle and the Aries I launch vehicle. We are going back to the moon as a stepping stone for future explorations of Mars and beyond.

SOPHIA: What I found was a message stating "NASA's conducting high-quality, innovative research required to facilitate the next generation air transportation system.

RORY: NASA's been successful in getting back to work on the ISS. And this year we will see the station's size and capabilities dramatically grow.

DEBBIE: Three years ago the President announced the vision for Space Exploration. We're going back to the Moon, and we're going on to Mars. We're building the vehicles today to do that and we're excited.

RORY: This is really cool because the answers that we'll get exploring the solar system will benefit all of mankind.

DEBBIE: Right now NASA has Rovers on Mars, Spirit and Opportunity, and they're sending back data that is going to help benefit us here on the planet. We have many more future missions planned to the Moon and Mars and we're excited about it.


CHRIS: Hey, I just want to congratulate the first ever NASA 101 class, and they've earned their diplomas, and they've completed their geocaching activity. So, I want to say congratulations, Debbie. Rory, since you're the architect, you don't get a diploma.

RORY: Ah, well Thanks.

CHRIS: Sophia.

SOPHIA: Thank you.

CHRIS: Rhett. Great Job. I know you didn't get a cache, but you participated and you get an "A" for effort. Great Job.

RHETT: Thank you.

CHRIS: Hey, Rory, would you like to go ahead and just kind of sum up what NASA 101 is all about.

RORY: Right, well I think this was great opportunity to see how this tool can effectively teach people about all the cool things that NASA does. So, I am really proud of this group and congratulations.

CHRIS: And congratulations to you all.

ALL: Thanks.

CHRIS: Hey, so what did you think of NASA 101?

BLAIR: I really love NASA 101. I worked really hard. I learned a lot. I'm a good student. But, you know, I am a little ticked off because I haven't been able to get a diploma, and Rhett is running around showing everybody his. And I get nothing.

CHRIS: Well, there is some good news and bad news to that.


CHRIS: The good news is that you got accepted into the course, which is an honor.

BLAIR: That's good.

CHRIS: The bad news is that there are some performance issues that came up during the course that they feel you need to take an incomplete and finish the course later.

BLAIR: That makes no sense. I mean, I'm a really good student. I worked really hard. I studied. I worked. I just did everything I had to do, and I don't understand.

CHRIS: Well, we're just going to have to wait and see next time on NASA EDGE, an inside and outside look at all things NASA.

BLAIR: [yelling] Toga, toga, toga.

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