Space science stars align at LASP New Media workshop


Space science stars align at LASP New Media workshop

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 For more information on LASP New Media professional development workshops, please visit

You may read the post-workshop summary report at


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