On Tuesday, January 31, Dr Michael Freilich, Director of the Earth Science Division at the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Science Mission Directorate, paid a visit to ISP. He spoke to our Grade 9 and 10 students about what exactly NASA does and how they use the vantage point of space to understand our own planet.
Dr Freilich began his talk by outlining what a NASA mission is and how a spacecraft gets into space and back again. He showed the students some original NASA footage from the 2011 Atlantis mission, which was the last and final flight of the Shuttle Program. During this mission the Atlantis space shuttle visited the International Space Station. The students were particularly amused by the kinds of experiments and tricks astronauts can get up to in microgravity conditions!
One significant part of Dr Freilich's talk was to explain that NASA's missions are not focused solely on space exploration, but also the use of instruments in space to make measurements of the Earth from a unique vantage point. This is the type of mission that Dr Freilich has focused on throughout his career with NASA. To demonstrate the kind of data these missions collect and its uses, Dr Freilich took data collected over the last few years and used it to explain the water cycle. He made observations of certain changes that have occurred, including indicators of the effects of climate change.
At the end of the talk Dr Freilich opened the floor to the students. He finished by challenging them to find a question that needs answering and find out what it feels like to discover something previously unknown.
We were delighted to receive two NASA publications, "Earth As Art" and "Our Changing Planet: The View from Space", which have been given a home in our Secondary School library. We would like to extend our thanks to Dr Freilich for taking the time to come to ISP and speak to our students; we know they found it fascinating and we hope he has inspired some future scientists and astronauts among them.