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Space science stars align at LASP New Media workshop

July 25, 2012

CCLDAS Principal Investigator Mihály Horányi shows the LASP dust accelerator to a group of science communicators during the July 20-22, 2012 LASP New Media Professional Development Workshop. (Photo courtesy Kevin Baird)

A group of New Media communicators gathered at LASP this past weekend to discuss the most up-to-date issues surrounding lunar and small bodies science and exploration with experts in the field. Sponsored by the LASP Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies (CCLDAS), the weekend-long workshop offered professional development for bloggers, podcasters, and other science communicators.

Laptops and tablets in hand, the workshop attendees live-reported as scientists discussed wide-ranging aspects of their work in an informal give-and-take atmosphere. Topics included the dangers of near-Earth objects such as asteroids and the Osiris-REx asteroid sampling mission; the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the debate over scientific definition of a planet; the hazards and significance of lunar dust; and the Deep Space 1 comet and asteroid fly-bys. The result was a trending topic on Twitter—hashtag #LASPnewmedia—and material for blog posts, photo essays, a space science video game, and other communiqués.

Over the course of the weekend, workshop attendees toured LASP facilities and visited the CCLDAS dust accelerator, a massive, tubular apparatus that shoots dust particles at up to 100 kilometers/second to study the effects of high-velocity dust impacts on the Moon. During the CCLDAS tour, Principal Investigator (PI) Mihály Horányi passed around a small sample of real Moon dust, brought back to Earth from the Apollo 17 mission. Consequently, the most-photographed star of the weekend weighed 0.3 grams and fit into a tiny glass jar.

The workshop’s speakers were Horányi; Daniel Britt, co-investigator for Mars Pathfinder and Deep Space 1; Richard Dissly of Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation; Ed Beshore, Deputy PI for Osiris-REx; Hal Levison of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI); and Alan Stern, New Horizons PI and Associate Vice President of SwRI.

Speaker presentations, participant lists, and other details from the workshop will be forthcoming at http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/education/journalist-workshops/2012-mediajournalist-workshop. For more information on LASP New Media professional development workshops, please visit http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/education/journalist-workshops.

You may read the post-workshop summary report at http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/ccldas/files/2012/07/CCLDASWorkshopSUMMARY_2012.pdf.

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