Webcasts

Michael Ewert, Deputy Project Manager, Exploration Life Support (ELS) Project, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

In 2001, NASA engineer Michael Ewert developed and patented a unique solar-powered vapor-compression refrigeration system that operates without batteries or external power of any kind. The system, which is powered by a photovoltaic panel and custom-designed electronic controls, could be used not only for long-duration space missions but also to build more environmentally friendly refrigeration systems here on Earth. Currently, Ewert is the Deputy Project Manager for NASA’s Exploration Life Support Project, which is developing new technologies needed to sustain human life on long-duration space exploration missions.

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Dr. Jaiwon Shin, Associate Administrator, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC

Born and raised in Seoul, Korea, Jaiwon Shin emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 23, and in 1989, he joined NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH, where he served most recently as Chief of the Aeronautics Projects Office. In January 2008, he was named Associate Administrator of the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.

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Dr. William Ko, Aerospace Engineer, Engineering Directorate, Aerostructures Branch, Dryden Flight Research Center

Dr. William Ko joined NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in 1977 after receiving a PhD in aeronautics from California Institute of Technology and conducting research at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. An accomplished scientist and inventor, he is credited with developing a number of mathematical theories critical to advancing the state-of-the-art in aerospace structural mechanics including the Blatz-Ko Constitutive Law for hyper-elastic materials, the Ko Flight Structure Aging Theory for fatigue life predictions, and the Ko Displacement Theory for structural shape predictions. The Ko Displacement Theory is currently being used at NASA Dryden to develop sophisticated fiber optic shape sensing technology that could one day give aircraft wings the ability to alter their shape in flight.

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Dr. Robert Braun

Dr. Robert Braun began his NASA career at Langley Research Center in Virginia in 1987 after receiving a B.S in Aerospace Engineering from Penn State University. While at Langley, he worked on a number of advanced space systems concept and flight programs including the Mars Pathfinder, Mars Microbe, and Mars Surveyor 2001 projects. From 1998 to 2000, he managed the development of the Mars Sample Return Earth Entry Vehicle, and from 2000 to 2001, he served as the Deputy Program Manager and Chief Engineer for NASA s Intelligent Synthesis Environment Program.

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Dr. Adrian Ponce, Deputy Manager, Planetary Science Section, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dr. Adrian Ponce joined JPL/NASA as a postdoctoral scholar in 2000 after receiving a Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech. In 2002 he invented the Anthrax Smoke Detector, a device capable of detecting the presence of anthrax in less than fifteen minutes. He recently developed a new technology called Germinable Endospore Biodosimetry, which not only rapidly detects the presence of bacterial spores on spacecraft but also determines whether they are alive or dead. Dr. Ponce currently serves as Deputy Manager of NASA JPL’s Planetary Science Section, and heads up the Ponce Research Group, an interdisciplinary team made up of researchers from JPL and California Institute of Technology.

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Robert M. Lightfoot Jr., Director, Marshall Space Flight Center

Robert Lightfoot Jr. began his career with NASA in 1989 as a test engineer and program manager for the space shuttle engine technology testbed program and the Russian RD-180 engine testing program. In 2002 he was named director of the Propulsion Test Directorate at Stennis Space Center, and from 2003 to 2005 he played a key role in the space shuttle's return to flight effort as assistant administrator for the Space Shuttle Program in the Office of Space Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. In August 2009 he was named director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

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Mark Polansky, Astronaut, Johnson Space Center

Mark Polansky enjoyed a successful 14-year career as an Air Force fighter pilot before joining NASA as an aerospace engineer and research pilot in 1992. Selected as an astronaut candidate in April 1996, he has since flown three space shuttle missions to the International Space Station, piloting the space shuttle Atlantis in February 2001 (STS-98), and serving as commander aboard Discovery in December 2006 (STS-116), and Endeavour in July 2009 (STS-127).

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