GRAIL Launch Social Summit at NASA
In September 2011, I had the privelege to attend a Social Media Summit at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center coinciding with the launch of the GRAIL lunar probes. The GRAIL mission involved twin probes, launched together, that are flying around the Moon in an extremely precise orbital formation. The probes are able to detect changes in their relative orbits no longer than the length of a red blood cell. Together, the probes can measure what either alone cannot: the gravitational field and structure of the Moon. By creating a gravitational map of the entire lunar surface, scientists will be able to answer questions that, somewhat unbelievably, do not yet have answers. For example, we do not yet know if the Moon has a core and, if so, from what it is composed.
Headline speakers included NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charlie Bolden, Mission Director and MIT professor Maria Zuber, astrophysicist and Director of the Hayden Planetarium Neil Degrasse Tyson and many others. The two day summit brought together over a hundred space enthusiasts, educators and professionals from around the world. The GRAIL launch summit also afforded the opportunity to see Space Shuttle Endeavor, in the process of decommissioning, up close in Kennedy Space Center’s famous Vehicle Assembly Building. As a passionate space enthusiast, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to share my experience through social media with hundreds of my followers and with my home community in Jacksonville.