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Dr. Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS Principal Investigator, Ames Research Center

Dr. Colaprete: That’s at the Instrument Working Group. A few years back a number of us who had an affinity for both instrumentation and science thought that better communication within the center and across the agency could really assist in bringing individuals with particular facilities, equipment, ideas, and so forth, together to capitalize on those new connections. So what we’ve done is build a grassroots campaign to start reenergizing the instrumentation groups here at NASA Ames by bringing together earth scientists, space scientists, planetary scientists, life scientists, etc., all with very similar experience or hardware that otherwise weren’t talking with each other. We got individuals from each of those groups as representatives, we pulled them together, and we talked about what we can do to increase our communication, and out of it came a workshop, what we call the Instrumentation Workshop. They were center-wide, all day, where people presented what they were working on and just got people talking with each other.

On top of that, working with our management here, we awarded several small, internal research grants to various groups who had proposed various ideas. We try to help select, internally, good ideas and foster those ideas with a little bit of seed money and engineers’ time. For example, a scientist may have a great idea, but they don’t have the means to actually turn that idea into a real instrument or a real mission concept, so what we do is we help identify the good ideas and work with our management to support those, either through engineering time or facility time, to bring those ideas to a more mature status. And I’m glad to say that’s worked in many cases where we’ve been able to get field instruments built, or new instruments have gone out and actually been awarded time or additional support funds from outside of NASA Ames, and that’s really the point. Get these things built up so that they could go out and find their place on a mission, or in a field study, or wherever. And it’s worked out pretty well.

LCROSS came in kind of at a good time because a lot of those connections were built just before LCROSS started up, and we managed the entire payload here for LCROSS and built one of the instruments, so it worked out really well. A number of those connections were made among the facilities, the engineers, and the scientists, and I think that contributed greatly to the overall success of delivering the LCROSS payload on time and under budget.

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