Sunday, May 6, 2012

Innovation Day!

Last Wednesday at JSC was Innovation Day. This annual event gives us a chance to see all the cool things going on in other departments at the space center and in other areas of the space industry. 

My department had this interesting mission control experiment set up. A "ground control" team had to watch the Mars lander model heading towards it's landing site while the "crew" had to fire thrusters to guide the lander, without being able to see it.
Ground team relaying instructions to crew.
"Crew" had to build Kinex per ground instructions to "fix" the lander.
They did it! Post it = landing site.
 Other highlights included:
T-38 Training jet. Astronauts fly these to get their flying hours.
Dan taking a look at the cockpit.
Model of the Orion capsule used for ground testing.
Inflatable module prototype, maybe one day will be attached to ISS?
Real-life angry birds! It's Physics.
Gotta kill that pig!
If you're curious how they got that plane into the parking lot, there's a fun article about it here.

Dan and I also did a comm delay experiment. I had the puzzle instructions and he had the puzzle, but there was a 5 second delay when we talked over the headset. It doesn't sound long, but felt like eternity. On ISS and the moon the comm delay to Earth is negligible, but on Mars it's at least 3 minutes each way. Which means if you ask a question, it takes at least 6 minutes to hear the answer! It will definitely change the way we do operations. Even waiting 10 seconds was very hard. We heard that they want to do a comm delay experiment on ISS- even though comm is instant, the capcoms would wait a certain amount of time before answering. I bet it will be agonizing for the crew to wait for the answer... which is entirely the point!

I love to see all the amazing things being done right down the hall or across the lawn that we usually don't get to see. Who knows what we'll see next year!?

Tomorrow morning I fly off to San Jose, CA for a week-long face to face meeting with some software developers we're working with. I know I'll miss Dan and my house... and my kitchen, but there's a lot of work to be done. Plus, switching to Pacific time means I get to sleep in and still get to work at 8am!

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