Lahaina Intermediate students learn about space technology at 2017 AMOS Conference
WAILEA – More than 50 years of human activities in space have produced societal benefits that improve the quality of life on Earth. The 18th annual Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference, held at the Wailea Beach Resort-Marriott on Sept. 19-22, envisioned the future of aerospace and the next generation’s part in it.
Organized and presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), AMOS is internationally known as the premier technical conference in the nation devoted to Space Situational Awareness (SSA).
Representatives of government, industry and academia discussed the rapid changes in the field of SSA, including the growing number of space operators, the move to commercial activities and the importance of international collaboration.
Over 730 attendees representing 16 countries participated in a strong technical program, including keynote speakers, panel discussions, exhibits and poster presentations.
MEDB, recognizing the need for the future generation to get involved in all areas of space exploration and technological solutions, held its eighth annual Space Exploration Student Day on the final day of the conference.
Lahaina Intermediate School students were among 160 Maui middle school students introduced to space technologies via exhibits and hands-on experiments. They had the opportunity to meet former astronaut Dr. Janet Kavandi and industry professionals, and to learn valuable lessons in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.
“Each year we see students’ creativity blossom as they solve engineering problems in this fast-paced, high-energy atmosphere,” said Mapu Quitazol, MEDB program director.
“The event provides our young students with the opportunity to learn about space and the different careers and technologies available in the space field. The day consists of hands-on demonstrations provided by the Air Force Research Laboratory, Boeing Co., National Space Observatory and the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. The students also visited various company exhibit booths like Lockheed Martin, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI) and more. This year, we were especially excited to welcome Dr. Kavandi.”
Currently, Kavandi is director of the NASA Glenn Research Center that leads the nation’s space program in space propulsion, power and communications; leads the nation’s aeronautics program in aircraft propulsion research; and develops cutting-edge research and technology in microgravity sciences and materials for extreme environments.
Selected as a NASA astronaut in December 1994, Kavandi is a veteran of three space flights. As mission specialist on STS-91, STS-00, and STS-105, she logged more than 33 days in space, traveling more than 13.1 million miles in 535 Earth orbits.
Recalling her time in space, Kavandi shared a video of her experiences and answered students’ questions. “Being in space has made me more aware of the impact of humanity on the Earth,” she explained. “Because you can see things like pollution and deforestation from space, it makes you more responsible and caring about the sustainability of our planet.”
Additionally, Kavandi told the students how being an astronaut was her lifelong dream that came true. “I had wanted to be an astronaut since I was a child,” she said. “Probably about five years old. I could see the stars and space at night, and it was always so intriguing. My dad and I would talk about what it was like to be up there, looking back at the planet.”
During her presentation, Kavandi noted the incredible views from space, like looking down on Africa and seeing a lightning storm travel hundreds of miles across the relatively dark continent. She was also able to confidently answer a question about the possibility of building permanent settlements on planets like the Moon or Mars.
“Technically, we can do it right now,” Kavandi said. “We have the technology. It just depends how many politicians get behind it.”
Diane Campbell, Lahaina Intermediate School Earth/space teacher, said, “AMOS provided a great opportunity for our students to engage with an astronaut, astronomers and other space experts. With today’s technology-driven society, students need first-hand knowledge in the world of STEM. My students are currently studying the solar system, and they were so excited to attend this conference.”
Campbell added, “I’m so thankful to MEDB for allowing this chance for my class to connect what they’re learning in the classroom with real-world experiences. Gaining firsthand knowledge about what science applications are needed for the next century will drive students the most.”
Lahaina Intermediate eighth-grader Rochelle Joy Simon exclaimed, “Today is a rare experience! I’m so grateful to meet former Astronaut Dr. Kavandi and all the industry professionals who made me aware of a whole new world of space exploration that I want to learn about.”
Simon continued, “My favorite exhibit was the thermal infrared imaging exhibit at Lockheed Martin. We experimented with a camera to learn how heat transfer works. The visual impact was huge and fun. We saw how the change of energy is indicated by an increased temperature.”
LIS eighth-grader Jayson Yap said, “I loved the whole day! Meeting Dr. Kavandi was so informative about life on the International Space Station. All the exhibits were educational. For example, AGI showed us an animated cartoon version of the complicated math that’s needed to track satellites in orbit. Now I better understand what the importance of doing well in school means for my future.”