Two weeks after I started work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in late 2003 I was given my first “real” assignment. I was asked to sit in on Mission Juno’s design meetings and write the E/PO (Education and Public Outreach) proposal outline for the mission, a page-and-a-half summary with a budget. It was exciting to delve into a new kind of out-of-this-world work and begin a dream-come-true job as the informal and public outreach person on the Cassini Mission, with occasional planetary mission proposal writing forays.
Fast forward nearly 8 years and I find myself sitting in the shadows of Kennedy Space Center writing a blog about my own adventures at the launch of the mission which launched my own career at JPL. There will be many blogs, photo essays, and tweets from the 150 Tweetup attendees and many other launch guests. Mojo was one of the lucky 150 attendees at the tweetup and his blog is here.
My job at the launch was threefold. My first role was at the NASA tweetup itself. I’ve been the @CassiniSaturn Twitter persona since June 2008, and so I was working the tweetup backing up my outer planetary mission buddy @NasaJuno on Twitter duty the hours leading up to, at and after launch. I was also on hand to talk about NASA’s Year of the Solar System and show my What’s Up podcast during the hour just before launch at the Tweetup.
My second job was to organize a “star party” for the launch guests and create a flyer for all the attendees. The guests included the Juno mission’s invited Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope Program students and educators, who came out to my star party. Each of the several thousand launch goodie bags had that star chart flyer featuring Saturn, the moon, Jupiter and Vesta, with a link to my What’s Up for August 2011 podcast and to NASA’s Year of the Solar System website outreach material. The podcast and website feature the Juno mission and planetary windy worlds like Saturn and Jupiter this month.
My third role was to participate in the Planetary Science Mission Directorate’s “Scientists in Action” webcast, live-streamed to museum audiences remotely. Museum audiences all over the country, and probably the world, watched this and other Juno launch programming.
In addition to the “work,” I was also a starry-eyed space girl at the NASA Tweetup, and was beyond excited to see my first launch. Just like the others, I was lapping up all the speaker comments and tweeting from @jhjones like crazy, when I wasn’t tweeting from @CassiniSaturn or @NASAJuno. I was stunned at the amazing bus tour stops, in spite of the sweltering heat. And I soaked up the electric camaraderie and atmosphere of everyone at the Tweetup program.
Although it was a “you had to be there” kind of event, I hope these pictures and tales give you a taste of the magic that is NASA. I almost can’t believe I get to go to NASA planetary mission launches at Cape Canaveral/Kennedy Space Center for work! And share the excitement of Cassini, Juno, and next month, Grail with informal education outreach! I’m not on cloud nine, I’m above it!