Webcasts

Sandeep Yayathi, Robotics Engineer, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

The Robonaut is a humanoid robot, so it’s a robot that looks very much like a person. It has two arms, similar degrees of freedom, and some complex dexterous hands. The hands are also very similar to what we have on our arms. The goal is for the Robonaut to be able to interface with the same interfaces that the crew uses now, and be able to handle the same tools that they use in orbit. Currently we have an (intra-vehicular activity) IVA version of the Robonaut, so it’s inside the space station mounted to a stanchion that the crew’s been working with. Looking forward to the future, we are currently working on a battery-based power system, as well as a pair of legs. Not so much legs like you and I have, but similar to the arms, with specialized end effectors for grabbing on to fixtures, tracks, and hand rails available on the station. This will set the stage for eventually having a robot that goes EVA [extra-vehicular activity].

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Stephen Merkowitz, Project Manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Stephen Merkowitz: NASA currently offers a network of space geodetic ground stations that do Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), satellite laser ranging (SLR), and [global navigation satellite system] GNSS or GPS tracking. The new space geodesy project will develop and implement the next-generation systems. The current systems are 20-30 years old. One of the primary drivers for upgrading the system is sea-level measurement, where you would like to be able to make those measurements at the millimeter level and have them be stable over the years, so you can do repeated measurements.

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Michael Gazarik, Director of Space Technology Programs, NASA Headquarters, Washington DC

As NASA’s Director of Space Technology Programs, Michael Gazarik contributes to the development of technology that can be applied to NASA’s exploration systems, space operations, and science missions. Gazarik integrates and tracks all investments across the agency. Prior to this appointment, he served as the Chief Technologist at NASA headquarters.

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Donald Wegel, Lead Engineer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt Maryland are in the early stages of designing a sample-collecting comet harpoon. NASA Goddard’s Donald Wegel, lead engineer on the project, will work with researchers to send a spacecraft to rendezvous with the comet, and then fire a harpoon to acquire samples from specific locations.

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Dr. Bruce Wielicki, Senior Earth Scientist, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

Dr. Bruce Wielicki, senior Earth scientist within the Science Directorate at Langley Research Center, works as lead of the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) mission. The Tier-1 earth science decadal survey initiative will anchor a future climate observing system.

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Sam Ortega, Program Manager, NASA Centennial Challenges, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL

Sam Ortega, manager of the NASA Centennial Challenges Program, leads progressive aerospace initiatives, encouraging the participation of independent teams, individual inventors, student groups, and private companies. Most recently, the program’s Green Flight Challenge awarded the largest prize in aviation history.

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Dr. Robert Okojie, Research Electronics Engineer, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland OH

Dr. Robert Okojie, Research Electronics Engineer at the NASA Glenn Research Center, develops harsh-environment microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Okojie currently processes, fabricates, tests, and packages silicon carbide pressure sensors, accelerometers, and fuel injectors.

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William Allen, Senior Engineer, Spacecraft Mechanical Engineering Section, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

William Allen, senior engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is the mechanical systems design lead on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), NASA’s biggest, most expensive, and most capable Mars rover. The rover is set to launch in November 2011.

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Phil McAlister, Acting Director of Commercial Spaceflight Development, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC

Phil McAlister, acting director of commercial spaceflight development, oversees the efforts of the Commercial Crew Development and Cargo programs. The dual initiatives spur efforts within the private sector to boost human spaceflight capabilities.

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Dr. Lin Chambers, Project Scientist, NASA Langley Science Directorate, Hampton, VA

Dr. Lin Chambers is Project Scientist in the Innovations in Global Climate Change Education program. The congressionally mandated project, initiated in 2008, awards grants to institutions that educate communities about climate science. The group develops resources to help others better understand and explain the causes and effects of climate change.

To download this interview as a podcast, .

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