So while this is a #throwbackthursday post, I actually forgot to write about this event earlier in the year (due to having a busy summer with Obvious Coffee). So, I will write about the awesome experience I had at NASA Glenn…now.
Back in March, I was one of roughly ~20 or so people invited to attend a private Moon 2 Mars event at NASA’s Glenn Research Facility. This location is located right next to the Cleveland international airport and is RARELY available to tour (due to the security around what they are working on). Our group got to demo some of the cool things that the NASA media team is using for outreach (such as VR), got to hear Janet Kavandi speak (who is now retired), and was able to tour parts of the Glenn Research facility (yes, including the gift shop past the security checkpoint).
What we didn’t realized til after Janet spoke was we were also in the presence of media reporting on this Moon 2 Mars announcement. We would hear more about this plan later in 2019 at the IAC event. Once Janet was finished speaking, we boarded a shuttle (look, puns!) and headed over to one of the research labs.
One of the labs we got to see up close was the SLOPE (Simulated Lunar Operations) lab which works on tires and methods of propulsion for devices on the Moon and Mars. The regolith (dust) on the moon is very sharp (think crystals) and “sticky” meaning it sticks to fabric and such. Because of this, you need special types of tires to get around and get traction.
After hearing some of the lessons learned from the aluminum wheels on the Mars rovers (read: rocks were sharper than they thought), we then descended deeper into the labs. We saw a lab dedicated to methods of excavating dirt/soil/ rocks on Mars as well as testing chambers for heat and vacuum testing (not nearly as large as the vacuum testing location in Dayton, Ohio though). We even saw prototypes for ion and nuclear powered engines!
Overall, if you ever get a chance to tour NASA Glenn, I highly recommend you jump at the chance. They have roughly ~6 tours on Saturdays during the summer and its first come first serve (I wasn’t able to get back in this year). It’s tough but highly worth it in my option.