Editor: Craig E. Ward
By Steve Bartlett
During 1999, OASIS promoted space development through several avenues: science
and science fiction conventions, involvement in the California Space Development
Council, communications, group activities, and amateur rocketry work.
Our convention activities spanned the year, beginning with the Gallifrey
convention in February and running through the Planetfest gathering in December.
At the Gallifrey convention, OASIS members served as guest speakers on space-related
topics and staffed an information table.
The Agamemcon convention in June provided us an opportunity to show attendees
the wide range of space activities in the Greater Los Angeles area. OASIS
arranged for a full slate of space-related programming for the run of the
convention, including dozens of panels and over twenty guest speakers from
NASA, local space companies, and elsewhere. These programs covered the gamut
of space development: reusable and expendable launch vehicles, commercial
satellites, the search for extra-solar planets and extra-terrestrial intelligence,
space education, space art, solar power satellites, Mars missions, robotic
probes, and many others.
|ISS Disucssion Panel (l-r): Steve Bartlett, Norm Cook,
Dr. Jim Busby, Bruce Boxleitner.
Photograph courtesy Karen Savage.
The highlight of the convention was the talk on the International Space
Station, featuring NSS Board of Governors member Bruce Boxleitner. This
panel talk drew an enthusiastic standing room-only crowd and included speakers
from OASIS and the Orange County Space Society.
Besides space programming and table staffing, OASIS provided space modeling
activities for adults and children. The Orange County Space Society also
had a table at this convention.
We continued our convention work in November at the LOSCON gathering. OASIS
provided multiple speakers on space topics and staffed an information booth
at this convention. Two weeks later, we helped to organize and staff a large
NSS booth at the Planetfest gathering. This conference drew thousands of
attendees from around the world and the booth gave OASIS and the other California
NSS chapters an excellent opportunity to spread the word about human space
development. NSS and the California Space Development Council, a coalition
of space groups in the Golden State, sponsored this booth.
OASIS members were heavily involved in CSDC throughout the year. This involvement
included helping to manage CSDC activities, organizing gatherings, helping
to publish the groups newsletter, and coordinating with other CSDC
members to promote space activities within the state.
The Greater Los Angeles chapter continued its long-standing history of communications
excellence through several outlets. Our monthly newsletter, The Odyssey,
provided chapter members and others with a local perspective on human and
robotic space development. For a wider audience, the OASIS website showed
the world who we are, what we do, and the benefits of membership. Besides
our own website, OASIS members researched and published an extensive list
of space-related websites around the globe. Our telephone hotline continued
to provide the latest information on upcoming space activities in the
OASIS also had two successful membership drives in 1999, taking its membership
to over 100. Several of these members attended a screening of the film October
Sky early in the year, while others were extensively involved in amateur
rocketry and attempts to loft small payloads high into the California
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Illustration courtesy NASA/JHUAPL.
The NASA satellite conducting the first-ever close-up study of an asteroid
will be renamed to honor Dr. Eugene M. Shoemaker, a legendary geologist
who influenced decades of research on the role of asteroids and comets
in shaping the planets. The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft,
currently orbiting asteroid 433 Eros more than 145 million miles from
Earth, will now be known as NEAR Shoemaker.
Gene Shoemaker was an inspirational, charismatic pioneer in the
field of interplanetary science, said Dr. Carl B. Pilcher, Director
of Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. Pilcher
announced the new name today during the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference
in Houston. It is a fitting tribute that we place his name on the
spacecraft whose mission will expand on all he taught us about asteroids,
comets and the origins of our solar system.
Shoemaker died in a 1997 car accident in the Australian outback while
on an annual study of asteroid impact craters. With his wife and research
partner, Carolyn, Shoemaker was part of the leading comet discovery team
of the past century, perhaps most famous for finding the comet (Shoemaker-Levy
9) that broke up and collided with Jupiter in 1994.
He was an expert on craters and the impacts that caused them. Shoemaker's
work on the nature and origin of Meteor Crater in Arizona in the 1960s
laid the foundation for research on craters throughout the solar system.
He also established the lunar geological time scale that allowed researchers
to date the features on the moon's surface.
Though he never realized his dream of tapping a rock hammer on the moon,
Shoemaker taught Apollo astronauts about craters and lunar geology before
they left Earth. Last year, when NASA's Lunar Prospector spacecraft crashed
on the Moon in an experiment at the end of its mission, a small vial of
Shoemaker's ashes, carried aboard the spacecraft, was scattered on the
Shoemaker was a key member of the 1985 working group that first studied
the NEAR mission, defining its science objectives and designing a conceptual
payload. Many of the group's recommended instruments were included in
the actual spacecraft, which only a month into its yearlong orbit of Eros
is already returning fascinating data on the asteroid's surface and geology.
The first in NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost planetary missions,
NEAR launched from Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL, on Feb. 17, 1996. After
a four-year journey that included flybys of Earth (Jan. 1998) and asteroids
Mathilde (June 1997) and Eros (Dec. 1998), NEAR began orbiting Eros on
Feb. 14, 2000. The car-sized spacecraft will observe the asteroid from
various distances -- coming within several miles of the surface -- before
the mission ends in February 2001. The Johns Hopkins University Applied
Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD, designed and built the NEAR spacecraft
and manages the mission for NASA's Office of Space Science.
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