Science Jamboree Attracts Interns, Scientists from Across Goddard

Press Release From: Goddard Space Flight Center
Posted: Monday, July 13, 2015

From cryogenically frozen marshmallows and pennies to 3D printed supernova, Tuesday’s Science Jamboree filled the atrium in Building 28 with science displays and demonstrations.

The sixth annual jamboree gave scientists and interns a chance to present and share the projects they are working on to fellow Goddard employees. Scientists also used Building 28’s Hyperwall, which is made up of 15 high-definition screens, to give presentations throughout the day.

“This is an opportunity not for us to just share with the rest of the community what people are working on but also an opportunity for them to talk with each other,” said Lora Bleacher, Acting Assistant Director of Science for Education, Sciences and Exploration Directorate (SED). “It’s sharing with the larger community what’s going on, but it’s also an opportunity for people to really connect and form new partnerships that may lead to future collaboration on missions or research.”

Roughly 60 different division groups came to the jamboree to display and talk about their work. From satellite technology to heliophysics to supercomputing to sea ice, science from the ocean to deep space was represented.

“NASA has always strived for public outreach and awareness,” Jordan Robertson, system admin of the Discover Supercomputer, said. “It’s integral. We just want to get it all out there.”

SED holds the Science Jamboree during the summer to give the summer interns more exposure to the different projects going on at Goddard, according to Science Jamboree logistics and communications lead Deanna Trask.

Interns Ross McCurdy of Iowa, and Omani Tuitt and Rafael Almonte, both of the Virgin Islands are working on x-ray polarimetry that will help detect and try to make images of black holes.

“[The jamboree] allows people to communicate and learn in a relatively informal setting,” said McCurdy. “It’s great hearing scientists get all excited about what they’re working on and it helps people learn what they want to do.”

Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese spoke at the beginning of the event, thanking the jamboree organizers and highlighting the different areas of science represented at the jamboree. Colleen Hartman, SED Director and Piers Sellers, SED Deputy Director spoke as well.

New Horizons Co-Investigator Dennis Reuter of Goddard’s Solar System Exploration Division spoke as well. Next week, the New Horizons mission will arrive at Pluto and send back the first-ever high-resolution photos of the dwarf planet. He was one of five Hyperwall presenters. Each of the presentations, which used the 20-by-6 foot, 10-inch visualization wall to display images individually or simultaneously, was standing room only.

Also on display was a student-made scale replica of one of the four identical spacecraft that make up the Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) mission. Launched this year, MMS looks at how the Sun’s and Earth’s magnetic fields connect and disconnect.

Outside of Building 28, the Goddard Astronomy Club set up two telescopes pointed at the sun. A few member of the club were present to explain to people what they were seeing through the scopes.

Other projects looked at how the sun if affecting the Earth’s magnetic field.

Intern Sean McCloat from the University of North Dakota is working on the citizen science project Aurorasaurus, that in the short term hopes to help predict when auroras are occurring using Twitter. In the long term, this data will help improve aurora models and predictions of where it will be. Auroras are caused when solar winds hit Earth’s magnetic field and light it up.

McCloat sorts through at the tens of thousands of tweets the project gets from people spotting auroras worldwide.

“The Science Jamboree was great,” said McCloat. “I recognized some faces, other faces not so much, but I definitely think we’ve reached a number of people.”

The Flight Dynamics Facility was open for tours as well. The team in this facility works with the satellites orbiting the Earth. When the satellites need to send data back to the ground, the facility finds their location and positions the data receivers around the world towards the satellites so they can receive the data. Right now, the FDF is working with roughly 50 satellites.

It’s a lot of fun because there are so many things going on,” Bleacher said. “This is only just scratching the surface of everything that goes on here at Goddard, and not everything at Goddard is represented today, and so it’s just mind-blowing how much cool stuff that Goddard is involved in and all of the amazing work and the hard work that people put into their jobs and the things they can do.”

Food trucks from Doug the Food Dude and Hardy’s BBQ came to the event as well.

If you missed the Science Jamboree, many of the same exhibits will be at Explore @ NASA Goddard, which will be Saturday, Sept. 26. from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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