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NASA Reveals the Future of Exploration at NextFest
A group of NASA astronauts, scientists and engineers are packing some of the agency's most exciting new technology and heading to New York City. They're all going to Wired Magazine's NextFest, which takes place at Javits Center Sept. 29 through Oct. 1.

Photo of Robonaut Inspired by the early World's Fair, Wired NextFest will feature more than 130 interactive exhibits from around the world. The festival will showcase the future of exploration, entertainment, transportation, health, design, communication, security and green living.

STS-121 astronauts Mark Kelly, Mike Fossum, Lisa Nowak and Stephanie Wilson, who launched on the shuttle Discovery on July 4, will attend the opening ceremonies and sign autographs throughout the event. On Saturday, NASA's Director of Strategic Investments Chris Shank will participate in roundtable discussions on space tourism and the future of exploration.

Image right: NASA engineers will give a live demonstration of Robonaut in the Exploration Pavilion. Credit: NASA

NextFest guests who visit the Exploration Pavilion can cast their votes for NASA's Greatest Fan. Participants in this contest submitted videos explaining why they deserve to win the title. The winner and a guest will receive a free trip to Kennedy Space Center, where they will be treated as VIPs at an upcoming space shuttle launch.

"We've never had a contest like this before, and we're really thrilled to give the public a chance to vote," said Space Operations Outreach Program Manager Beth Beck. "Just think, you could be part of giving a NASA fan the thrill of seeing a shuttle launch."

While exploring the pavilion, guests will discover a life-size model of the crew module for Orion, NASA's new spaceship that eventually will carry astronauts to the moon and beyond. They'll also see a live demonstration of Robonaut, a human-controlled robot, and Clarissa, a voice-activated computer program that guides astronauts through complicated procedures on the space station.

Two exhibits will show guests how technology created for space also improves life on Earth. A team of engineers who developed water purification systems for the shuttle and space station will explain how they used their expertise to help restore clean water to a village in Iraq. And NASA scientists will describe how they used remote-sensing technology in space to discover ancient Mayan ruins in Guatemala.

A close-up view of a scroll fragment.Image left: One exhibit will show how a scientist used NASA technology to reveal these hidden Hebrew letters in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Credit: NASA

Other exhibits in the Exploration Pavilion will include AERCam, a 10-pound flying eye satellite designed to inspect the outside of spacecraft in orbit, and 3-D black hole simulations created with a NASA supercomputer.

In the Health Pavilion, a NASA scientist will explain how he is using imaging technology from the Mars Rovers to generate retinal scans to detect and monitor eye disease. He also used the same technology to reveal text hidden by 20 centuries of decay in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The exhibit will highlight both applications.

NextFest is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit www.nextfest.net.

Jan Wittry (SGT, Inc.)
NASA's Glenn Research Center