I still remember the moment I found out I was selected to attend the GRAIL launch NASA Tweetup. While driving home from the annual meeting of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, I found myself getting a little tired so I decided to stop off and grab a shot of sugar via a strawberry milkshake. As I sipped down my pink goo, I passed the time by reading my latest emails. That’s when I first saw the email inviting me to the Kennedy Space Center to participate in a NASA Tweetup! Naturally, my response was to tweet the news.
NASA Tweetups are outreach events in which the space agency invites selected twitter users to attend special events such as shuttle launches and festivities. The upcoming tweetup will be held the 25th hosted by NASA. To be selected all you need is an active twitter account and the ability to attend the scheduled events. If you satisfy these simple criteria, you can throw your name into a hat and hope it’s randomly picked. For the GRAIL tweetup there were over 825 entries, 150 of which were selected for attendance.
During a typical tweetup participants are given behind the scenes tours of facilities, in addition to formal and informal talks by mission scientists, engineers, and NASA officials. Some tweetups are as short as a few hours, while the longest last for a week in the case of the STS 133 shuttle launch tweetup.
Before a few days ago I couldn’t comment too much as to what the GRAIL tweetup would entail, mostly because the details hadn’t yet been finalized. Then, last Thursday we got our orders. The planned list of activities looks absolutely awesome. Before, I was excited just to be invited, now I’m absolutely ecstatic.
The GRAIL NASA Tweetup is a two day event. It starts first thing Wednesday morning (Sep 7) with tours of Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. After lunch we’ll be treated to talks by:
- Jim Adams — deputy director, Planetary Division, Science Mission Directorate
- Charles Bolden — NASA Administrator
- Sami Asmar — GRAIL deputy project scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- Maria Zuber — GRAIL principal investigator
- Neil de Grasse Tyson — Frederick P. Rose director at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History
And that’s just the first day, pre-launch activities. Day 2 starts with a trip to the causeway for viewing of the Delta II rocket launch that will carry the twin GRAIL satellites into space. After a successful launch (al fingers crossed here) we’ll head to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for talks by Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Nichelle Nichols (Lt Uhura from the original Star Trek series).
That’s it for the official GRAIL launch NASA Tweetup. However, that’s not the end of the fun. The second day will only be considered complete after the tweetup tradition of the Endless BBQ held at the Cocoa Beach Brewing Company.