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#LADEE #NASASocial 2013/09 5, 6

The LADEE social was a magical experience. This is us, Thursday, at the WFF Pad 0B with LADEE.

Space tweeps at Pad 0B

Space tweeps at Pad 0B @NASASocial

The Minotaur launch lit up Chicoteague Bay in a way that’s hard to describe. My visual post image (blind spot) lasted for a couple minutes. And then a few seconds later, the sound rushed over us like the mach boom from a flying Astrodome. Far beyond the sound of thunder.

After the launch, the NASA Social bus was humming with twitter like a twitter neural implant. Amazing.

NASA loves social media because it connects people with their science efforts in a way that’s more direct than conventional media. Charlie Bolden wants us all to know that we’re all a part of the NASA Team. I found this message to have far more force in person, than in video or print. In person it sinks in. It can wash over you like a flat spin. But that’s me.

The hard part about tweetups is matching names and faces and twitter handles in a day or two. If you’re twenty years old this is as natural as rain. But still not easy. Makes me think of a Space Tweep Face Book, but rather than write code I’ll just recommend Google plus. Tweeps on Google plus can share circles. A circle is a list of G+ people that can be used to select sharing and notifications, and can be used for privacy. Image tagging, though, is the thing. A G+ image has a URL, and the tagged image is the visual human – computer interface for matching names and faces and twitter handles and more. On G+ public sharing has ripples, a visual sharing graph, which can be seen for any shared post using the menu from the post’s top right corner.

The hard part about covering NASA is the volume of that space of information. It’s about 8.6 × 10^{38} cubic meters, or the volume of a sphere centered on the Sun and containing the orbit of Pluto.  In other words, it’s not possible to cover it all in any sense.  One approach is to get ahead of upcoming social events with topical material like this bit of homework.

To write that post I started from the LADEE pages and then found additional information using NSSDC and NTRS. NTRS has technical reports that reference science articles. I scan these pdfs for whatever I understand, and just try to remember the parts I do or don’t understand using the terms from each paper. This is enough to illuminate a subject roundly: to note the primary terms and some description of their meaning.

The search I use is a google expression like “ultraviolet visible ladee site:nasa.gov”. This covers everything, and knowing about the resource repositories just helps to sort the search results. The fun part is how useful and effective this work can be.

For me it’s interesting how twitter and g+ are complementary. The reader’s perspective in each of twitter, tweet deck, or g+ is unique in terms of information density. The diversity of topics available per pixel in twitter (tweet deck / columns) is far higher than in g+. The user experience in g+ is good for reading, unlike facebook which is exploiting visual human psychology for a less interesting business model. Google’s economy of scale is better for the user, and Google recognizes the relationship between “organizing the world’s information” and “public trust.”

Correction/ Update (10/10/2013): This writer appreciates this post as a personal one having no legal matter whatsoever to the persons and entities mentioned.  Specifically, when I wrote “Google recognizes” I had no objective or factual reason for saying so — but reached for the stars overhead to express an idea that is irrelevant to the legal world (at large) wherein the private sector entity commonly known as Google has no facility in the public sector.  I thought that was (in the neighborhood of) obvious, but I understand now that I crossed a line if misunderstood (misrepresented) to be a general statement in a larger world than the personal one that was intended.  This isn’t wikipedia, here.  Happy birthday, Peter.

LADEE, first flight to the moon from Wallops Flight Facility

Of course everyone reading this knows about the #NASASocial event for the launch of the LADEE mission to Lunar orbit happening this week on Thursday (9/5) and Friday (9/6).  Follow NASASocial/lists/ladee-launch-social plus @NASA_Wallops, @NASALADEE, @NASAAmes, @NASAGoddard, and also @LRO_NASA for updates.

A nice piece of Wallops history was raised by @TeresaR_WV: “Explorer 9 was the first spacecraft placed in orbit by an all-solid rocket and the first spacecraft successfully launched into orbit from Wallops Island.” (1961, NSSDC).

The LADEE social will be covering a huge range of subjects, including the following.

The LADEE mission will be collecting data on the Lunar Exosphere, specifically tightening the boundaries on gas and dust types and quantities found at altitudes under 50 km so that future work can develop an understanding of the surface boundary exospheric processes that occur on inert rocky bodies like the Moon and Mercury. And the LADEE mission will be flight qualifying the LLCD free space optical communications link. Data collection in the Lunar Exosphere will employ three instruments.

The Neutral Mass Spectrometer (NMS) determines captured (Lunar Exosphere) gas particle types (element) using a kind of electromagnetic filter called an RF Quadrupole or Quadrupole mass analyzer, or Mass Spectrometer. Instruments very similar to this one have flown on many deep space missions including CASSINI. In determining gas types with fairly high frequency (many per second), gas quantity and distribution can be determined over time.

The Ultraviolet – Visible Spectrometer (UVS) will determine observed (Lunar Exosphere) gas types by the characteristic electromagnetic emission spectra of gas particles impacted by solar radiation. It is also capable of a few additional modes (that I haven’t groked yet) that provide information about gas and dust processes in the exosphere.

The Lunar Dust Experiment (LDEX) captures larger “dust” particles to determine composition and distribution over time, not entirely unlike the NMS. Also not entirely unlike the NMS, it employs an electromagnetic process to do so.

The NMS and LDEX are forward facing, while the UVS is rearward facing, in LADEE’s direction of flight. That is, LADEE flies sideways relative to its Lunar Capture rocket engine which it points out of the way otherwise.

The NASA TV broadcast schedule includes events on Thursday and Friday.

September 5, Thursday

10 -11:30 a.m. – NASA Social for LADEE Mission Live from the Wallops Flight Facility – HQ/WFF (Education Channel)


3 p.m. – LADEE Prelaunch Mission Briefing – HQ/WFF (All Channels)

4 p.m. – LADEE Mission Science and Technology Demonstration Briefing – HQ/WFF (All Channels)

September 6, Friday

6-10 a.m. –Live Interviews on the LADEE Mission – HQ/WFF (All Channels)

4-6 p.m. – Live Interviews on LADEE Mission – HQ/WFF (All Channels)

9:30 p.m. – Live Launch Coverage and Commentary on LADEE Mission – HQ/GSFC/WFF (Public and Media Channels)

9:30 p.m. – Simulcast of NASA EDGE Live Webcast of LADEE Mission and Launch – LARC/HQ/WFF (Education Channel)

September 7, Saturday

2 a.m. – LADEE Post Launch News Conference –HQ/WFF (All Channels)

The LADEE Mission Pages have info for viewing the launch from the US East Coast, and most importantly how to get involved in citizen science!