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NASA Academy at Ames (Leadership Program)




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NASA Academy at Ames

Doug O'HandleyJulie LitzenbergerMike Hannon

Group Project

Research with NASA Principal Investigators

Field Trips to NASA Centers and Other Institutions and Companies

Meetings with NASA Leaders

Doug O’Handley, Director, with Julie Litzenberger, Mike Hannon

The NASA Academy at Ames identifies future potential NASA leaders and brings them to NASA Ames for an intensive ten week overview of all aspects of NASA Missions. This module addresses NASA's Access to Space and workforce training commitment. Potential future NASA engineers learn firsthand about the challenges of space transportation in the new millennium. The success of the summer is determined by the group, its motivation, collaboration, and dedication. For an overview of Summer 2003 activities, click here.

The program has four key elements:

Group Project
Research Associates lead a group project, which they select.
Recent projects included:
  • 2003 - Microbially-Induced Erosion at Deep Sea Vents
  • 2002 - "Humans to Mars: The Political Initiative and Technical Expertise Needed for Human Exploration of the Red Planet" - paper presented by Academy Alumni at IAA Humans in Space 2003
Available downloads: (.pdf format)
Field Trips to NASA Centers and Other Institutions and Companies
Research Associates visit other NASA facilities, scientific institutions, and corporations on a range of field trips designed to enable them to better understand the requirements of NASA missions. Pictures below show some of the sites visited:

1. Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute 2. Lick Observatory: The 2003 Academy invited more than 20 friends in other educational programs to join their tour of Lick Observatory, led by Research Astronomer Remington Stone, Director of Mt. Hamilton Operations. 3. Space Systems Loral: Communication Satellites, Menlo Park 4. Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory: NASA Johnson Space Center.

Meetings with NASA Leaders
Research Associates participate in sessions with leaders in government, industry and academia. Students also have the opportunity to meet leading scientists in order to better understand NASA missions through a speaker series and field trips.

1. NASA Adminstrator Sean O’Keefe met with the 2002 NASA Academy for Astrobiology when they joined a Congressional hearing in Washington D.C. 2. Jill Tarter, who holds the Bernard M. Oliver Professorial Chair at the SETI Institute, told 2003 Academy students about Project Phoenix and the ongoing search for signals from extraterrestrial life. 3. Astronaut David Williams describes his ongoing life as an Astronaut and plans for his next mission. 4. Former Astronaut Bonnie Dunbar describes her current work with NASA on university programs.

Research with NASA Principal Investigators
Research Associates develop research projects under the direction of NASA scientists. Research projects of the 2003 Academy included:
  • The Influences of Gravity and Mechanical Forces at the Cellular Level
  • Radiation and Climate on Earth
  • Searching for Life Underground: Experiments with Drilling in Mars Analog terrains
  • Biogeochemistry of Microbial Ecosystems
  • Physiology and Imaging of the Vestibular System
  • Hypergravity Effects on the Maternal-Fetal System
  • Charting the History of Earth’s Earliest Microbial Ecosystems
  • Stimulated Infrared Emission from Rocks during Deformation
  • Preparation of a Spectral Library for Future Exploration of Mars
  • Detection of Biosignatures with Highly Sensitive Radio-labeling Techniques
  • Investigations of Data from Mars Missions and Terrestrial Analogs
  • Education Activities in Astrobiology
The following scientists at NASA Ames hosted Academy Research Associates in their labs in 2003: Richard Boyle, Nathalie Cabrol, David Des Marais, Friedemann Freund, Tori Hoehler, David Morrison, Peter Pilewskie, April Ronca, Ted Roush, Nancy Searby, Carol Stoker, David Summers

Twelve applicants representing twelve different states and one Canadian sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) are selected each year for this leadership program. For more information about past sessions of the NASA Academy for Astrobiology (1997 to 2003), click here to its old website.


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