Friday, June 13, 2008

To the moon, Alice!!

Oh my, life in these parts is exciting these days. The sand dunes near a town that is near the town where we live (say that 5 times fast) has been hosting the most fabulous and most intelligent minds from NASA this week. Because, based on the ones I got to talk to, they certainly sent the best and the brightest. And the nicest, too, by the way. They have been testing many varieties of Lunar vehicles, prototypes of the very wheels that will next explore the moon. Much wow-ness, let me tell ya.
This is a land surveying robot. They had two of these running around, collecting unimaginable amounts of data, images, etc. Colton thought they were looking a bit like R2D2.

These are some of our fabulous friends that made the trek to the barren desert this weekend to help us witness these events.

This is the spacesuit trailer at the site. The guys is getting onto a platform that will lower him to the ground, because stairs are understandably very hard to navigate in a 200 pound spacesuit with limited movement.

This is one of the NASA engineer dudes who answered lots of questions for our kids, and allowed them to cross the yellow, taped-off "Do Not Cross" tape because they are "America's next generation of engineers", and they should be able to see this stuff up close. Apparently, this guy was in charge of things, but you wouldn't have known it by his attitude.

This is another one of the robot vehicle thingies, I'm sure collecting very important data. It was being commandeered by some college students, and we did not get too much info on it.

Wednesday we went back out, and got a tour of the Space Suit Trailer (see above). They explained lots about the different suits, answered they boys' questions, and let them look around. They stopped short of letting them try it on, though!

The other 1/2 of the Space Suit Trailer is command central for the sand dune operation. Colton was enthralled with watching these guys. There are cameras everywhere outside - on the robots, on tripods, etc - so in that room, on one of the million or so screens, you can have a view of everything that's going on. Including seeing their own backsides thanks to the camera above the space suits - which was just as enthralling as the robots!! Chane counted 24 laptops in this room. Wow.

NASA for camper. Looks cozy, huh? I wish my camper hooked up to my friend's campers. Okay, take back, I don't. Unless they were in charge of cleaning the place.

There are two "astronauts" - or engineers pretending to be astronauts - on this vehicle, but it is being controlled from Houston. By a chick. How cool is that?

One of the most interesting things to me was that they are taking back buckets and buckets of our sand. They have done this at several of their desert research locations. To make some big sandboxes. For Mr. Armstrong. So he can jump around in them and see if it feels like the stuff on the moon. And everyone is confident that he'll remember! I'm extra-impressed. I can't remember what I ate for lunch yesterday. Guess that's why he works for NASA.

Thanks for the opportunity, NASA muckity-mucks. My kids will remember this forever. You were extra accommodating, highly informative, and most of all, just plain nice. Good luck to you all - can't wait to see our robot friends on the moon!

1 comment:

Darla said...

So not fair.... you guys got to see so much more than us... Adrian, even said... Hmmm this was a complete waste of time.. What a difference 2 hours makes...

Thanks for the pics and sharing