NASA Social at JPL

I’ve been trying to write this post for about 24 hours now, and I just can’t. I can’t find the words to express how incredible and amazing an utterly mind blowing the experience of going to a NASA Social was… Maybe the words will come to me once I’ve had more time to process the experience, but for now here are some of my pictures, they’ll have to tell the story for me.

The Von Karman Auditorium was “home base” for us. How do you decorate your auditorium? Well, if you’re JPL you decorate with space craft…

The list of speakers we heard was impressive. Another attendee said something about how everyone was so excited to have us there at JPL and share their work with us, and that was so true. Everyone was fascinating and I know I missed at least half of everything between trying to listen, take pictures, and tweet all at the same time. I tried to be good with details, but if I’ve gotten anything wrong in this post please let me know in the comments.

A 2 hour portion of the program was broadcast on NASA TV and has been uploaded to you tube. (Start around 16:30. For some reason the beginning is just a title card for a long time.)

Another piece of the program:

When we arrived on day 2 there were parts on our tables. Actual spacecraft parts! And there were scientists and engineers all throughout the room to explain the parts and demonstrate NASA’s various apps.

(If you see a table tent in the photo it was just the table name, it isn’t connected to the part on the table.)

And of course while we were in the room I had to take the obligatory “pretending I work at NASA” picture.

We had a speaker on Monday who was not in the program. LeVar Burton who was at JPL to shoot a PSA graciously made time to stop and talk to us.

Our time at JPL wasn’t all speakers, we were treated to tours of some amazing places…

The JPL Museum complete with scientists and demonstrations

The Deep Space Network Mission Control

They showed us a video of the room on Curiosity’s landing night, while we were sitting in that room. I got a little misty-eyed. Dare Mighty Things, indeed…

The Spacecraft Assembly Building

And the Mars Yard.


(I have no idea where this originally came from, but I’ve seen it online a few times and it always cracks me up!)

I’ve done a lot of really cool things in my life. This was the coolest.

I think I took about 300 pictures in the Mars Yard alone, I was really excited to be there!


Hangin’ out with my new pal Curiosity! (okay, Maggie)

JPL is a really beautiful place, in addition to all of the awesome science happening there…

Here are the official group photos from JPL. (Click to see various sizes, up to and including ginormous!)

Normal picture

“Goofy” picture. (Not that much different) πŸ˜‰

With “NASA Mohawk Guy” and space cutie, Bobak Ferdowsi

Now back to real life, but I sure could get used to being treated like a VIP at JPL every day! πŸ™‚


Health update: These two days were very hard on my body, especially the 2nd day. I’m not sure how long it will take me to recover (so to speak) but everything was more than worth it! The staff at JPL had a golf cart standing by to take me where I needed to go, and other than a few places I was able to sit down when I needed to. No one made me feel singled out or like ‘that disabled lady’ (you’d be surprised how often well-meaning people do this) and I was able to be just one of the group. And woo-hoo I didn’t fall even once while I was there! πŸ™‚ Special thanks to a wonderful friend who played chauffeur both days so I was able to take pain meds when I needed to and not have to worry about driving later. ❀


One thing I learned over the course of the event is exactly how bad my “selfie” skills are, so there are not that many pictures with me in them. Here are some pictures other people have posted.

@VickySvyrydyuk posted this photo of @susankitchens, myself, and @thisDianeNorris.

@Janestarz posted this picture of a group of us looking down into the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, I’m the one closest to the camera.

@amyjclayton posted “Table Jason at lunch with Howard Eisen.”


L-R: @susankitchens, myself, @thisDianeNorris, @VickySvyrydyuk, @elsienw, Howard Eisen, @anna_1312

@CourtOConnor posted this picture. I’m small, but I’m there!

@VeronicaMcG posted this picture. (Back of my head.)

@PlanetaryKeri posted this picture. (Another ‘back of my head’ shot.)

@TinaCassler posted this picture. (Busy tweeting!)

@Streeterama posted three photos here that I’m in.

@kikipessa posted a photo here.

@ridingrobots posted a photo here.

@RaeBeta posted a photo here.

@RaeBeta posted a photo here.

@TinaCassler posted a photo here.

@susankitchens posted a photo here.

@NASAJPL posted a photo here.

@NASAJPL posted a photo here.

@ageekmom posted some photos here.

Veronica McGregor turned our tweets into a story using Storify here.

@audvin made this awesome network centrality graph of the #NASASocial JPL tweet stream

@audvin posted β€œA visualization of the #NASASocial conversation. Data from the 3,500 last tweets. @NASAJPL” here.

@audvin posted β€œDay 2: People central to the #NASASocial conversations. No surprise to see @MarsCuriosity :)” here.

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