I began serving as a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador in January 2001 and have made numerous presentations on planetary science, planetary missions, and space exploration in the Chicago area. In my role of ambassador, I am available to speak to your organization or group on a variety of topics that pertain to the exploration of space. Hopefully, the information on this page will answer most, if not all, your questions about this program.
A Solar System Ambassador (SSA) is someone who has been selected to participate in the Solar System Ambassador program. This program is sponsored by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
The Solar System Ambassador program is "a public outreach program designed to work with motivated volunteers across the nation. Volunteers are asked to organize and conduct public events that communicate exciting discoveries and plans for exploration in Solar System research and technology through non-traditional forums."
The first full year of operation for the program was 2000. That year, 145 Ambassadors in 45 states made approximately 600 public presentations. For 2001, there were 202 Ambassadors in 48 states. The idea for the program came about as a result of the successes of the Galileo Ambassador Program, which was created in 1997.
As a part of the program, SSAs are expected to be familiar with and able to speak about those JPL projects that are participating in the SSA program. Some of the NASA JPL missions that have been formally a part of the SSA program are:
Also included is the Deep Space Network, which is the facility used by the various missions for spacecraft communications.
For information about upcoming presentations, visit ArtsNova Blog. This is where I post information about my upcoming public presentations. Generally these programs are free.
There are a number of prepared presentations that I can deliver to your organization. The list that immediately follows are current presentations that can be provided on short notice. These presentations are all computer based and last up to one hour.
Following is the complete list of prepared presentations, past and present, that can be delivered to your group generally on 3-4 weeks notice, depending on the specific talk, my schedule and other commitments. The list is divided into three categories. The first category covers presentations that deal with Mars, both from a geological perspective as well as a human exploration perspective. The second covers presentations about planetary science in general, the Solar System, and astronomy or astronomical topics. The third category deals with the history of space exploration as well as the future of space development.
The Exploration of Mars:
|Mars Science As Art Using Subjective Image Processing||60 minutes||Computer||Adult||The availability of NASA Mars mission data archives on the Internet and the availability of image processing software on home computers means that we can all be armchair explorers of Mars. This presentation explains how it's done.|
|Mars As Art||35-60 minutes||35mm Slides||General||A look at how image processing is used to process Mars Global Surveyor images and how further digital manipulation can produce Mars-derived digital art.|
|Behold Mars||30 - 60 minutes||Computer||Adult||A 45 minute presentation exploring Martian geology using images from various missions, along with a discussion of the image processing used to create the images.|
|Missions to Mars||45 minutes||35mm Slides||General||A presentation about various missions to Mars, both real, planned, and imagined.|
|Why Explore Mars||30 minutes||35mm Slides||General||An analysis of why it is important for humanity to explore the planet Mars.|
|The Martian Future||1 Hour||35mm Slides||General||An overview of past exploration Mars, what we know about Mars, and what it will take to send a human mission to Mars.|
|Life on Mars||30 minutes||35mm Slides||General||An overview of the evidence and possibility that life existed on Mars.|
|Mars Oddities - Mars Odyssey||1 Hour||35mm Slides||General||A look at the images and data returned by the Mars Global Surveyor mission and an overview of the Mars Odyssey mission.|
|Intelligent Travellers Guide to Mars||1 Hour||Overheads||Adult||A program that explains the naming of features on Mars and their geophysical classification.|
|Imaging Mars||30 - 60 minutes||Computer||Adult||An introduction to image processing techniques used to process image data returned by the various Mars missions with emphasis on the Mars Global Surveyor.|
Planetary Science, the Solar System, and Astronomy
|The Universe According to Monty Python||1 hour||Computer||General||An analysis of the planetary, astronomical, and cosmological statements made by Monty Python in their song "The Galaxy Song"|
|The Solar System in 3D||40 minutes||Computer||Children||A tour of the Solar System including the Sun, planets, comets, and asteroids. Pictures used are 3D anaglyphs with the audience being required to wear red/blue glasses in order to see the 3D effect.|
|Our Solar System||1 Hour||35mm Slides||General||A general introduction to the solar system.|
|Hubble Space Telescope Views the Universe||45 minutes||35mm Slides||General||A look at nebula, supernovas, galaxies and more as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.|
|The NEAR Mission to Eros||45 minutes||Overheads and 35mm Slides||General||An overview of the NEAR Shoemaker mission to the asteroid Eros and the resulting discoveries.|
Space Exploration and Development:
|The Future of Space Exploration||45-90 minutes||35mm Slides||General||An examination of the "New Vision for Space Exploration" including Shuttle return to flight, ISS, and future human space exploration missions.|
|Moon Fuel for a Hungry Earth||60 minutes||Computer||Adult||A look at nuclear fusion as a source of energy and the mining of lunar helium-3 as a fuel for fusion reactors.|
|Powering Earth: Space and the Future of Energy||60 minutes||Computer||Adult||As Earth's energy consumption increases, scientists work to find new energy sources to power our planet. This presentation investigates the feasibility of space-based solutions to Earth's energy shortage including satellites that collect solar power and mines on the Moon. The program will examine and evaluate three scientists' blueprints for harnessing space resources to meet our growing demand for clean fuel.|
|Solar Power from Space for Earth||60 minutes||Computer||Adult||A presentation exploring the concept of using space-based Solar Power Satellites to meet the world's growing energy demands in an environmentally friendly way. The use of lunar resources for constructing the SPS system is discussed as are a variety of system architecture scenarios. Emphasis is on the ideas of Dr. Peter Glaser's Solar Power Satellite concept, Dr. Gerard O'Neil's lunar mining and space manufacturing concepts, and Dr. David Criswell Lunar Solar Power concept.|
|Gemini - Stepping Stone to the Moon||60 minutes||Computer||General||An overview of the Gemini space program and its place in the history of space exploration.|
|The International Space Station||45 minutes||35mm Slides||General||A general introduction to the International Space Station.|
|The Apollo Legacy||35 minutes||35mm Slides||General||An overview of the Apollo missions to the Moon.|
|The Space Frontier||40 minutes||35mm Slides||General|
|A general introduction to humans in space.|
If your group or organization would like a presentation on a topic not listed in the Prepared Presentations section above, please contact me. Be forewarned that depending on the nature of the program you are requesting, and other speaking requests already in queue, it may be 4-8 weeks before I will be able to speak to your group.
Please note that I am not the only SSA in Illinois so you may want to consider contacting another SSA.
For reference purposes, I have made a history of my past presentations about astronomy, space exploration and planetary science available at Past Talks.
If you want to learn the identity of the other SSAs from Illinois, then proceed to the JPL Ambassadors for Illinois page.
If you want to learn more about the NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador program then visit the JPL Ambassador Program Home Page
Need someone to talk about space to your group? Check out the Chicago Society for Space Studies Speakers Bureau
For space art, astronomy, and digital photography stories, visit the Artsnova Blog