Week 7 SQP (July 22nd - July 28th)

Written By: Janine Baijnath and Michael McCarty

Monday, July 22nd:
After a fun filled family weekend, the Academites were sad to say goodbye to their friends and families, but excited to reunite with their orphans at MegaBites! Breakfast was spent sharing stories about their relaxing yet busy weekend. Everyone left to start their day and to engage in an “actual” full day of work on their individual projects! Lynn, Marissa, Karl, Lauren and Brian went to the NASA Ames Executive Council meeting at 9:00am looking spiffy. Monday was also a special day for Nat and Baba because they could officially clear security unescorted! The evening was as quiet as it can get in the Academy, with the regular MNL meeting and a quick dinner at Panera and Chipotle.

Tuesday, July 23rd:
Tuesday morning was spent juggling individual projects and finalizing poster presentations. A quick lunch was grabbed at MegaBites before the team headed to the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) conference room for a brown bag discussion with Jack Boyd. Truly a renowned historian of NASA Ames, he gave the group the low-down on his fruitful career and the evolution of the center over the past 70 plus years. The people he met, the places he’s seen, and the things he’s done were all fascinating for the group. That evening, some of the crew went grocery shopping while everyone decided to find their own dinner meals. Emily, Lynn, Michael and Brian went computer shopping for Em…but came back with nothing. Marissa spent most of the evening photo-shopping a few of the Academite’s NASA photos. Nice work Marissa! Others utilized this time to finish up their poster presentations before heading off to bed.

Wednesday, July 24th:
Wednesday was a busy day, for the individual and group poster presentations were due to Alarkanie by 11:30am! The crew managed to submit the group poster just in the nick of time. After that, the Academites scrambled to grab some lunch at MegaBites before taking the big walk over to T20-G for another brown bag discussion, this time with Dr. Chris McKay. Dr. McKay took the time to share one of his many research projects, specifically that of Lake Untersee in the East Antarctic region. Everyone was blown away by his adventurous fieldwork excursions. After a healthy dose of inspiration, the group resumed work for the afternoon hours; however, the workday was cut short for Nat, Tom and Brian who left early to prepare dinner at Doug’s. (It was absolutely delish!) Both Space and Aero rendezvoused at Doug’s for a special guest speaker. The guest of the evening, Pat McKenna, is an alumnus of the 1997 NASA Ames Academy for Space Exploration, but what made him even more awesome was the fact that he was a finalist for the Astronaut Corps! The group was serenaded by his stories, most of which detailed the astronaut selection process. Everyone listened in awe and probably all felt a tad bit under qualified, or at least physically inept for the astronaut training program. Ater barraging him with questions (as the crew likes to do best), the Academy set off for home to get a good night’s rest.

Thursday, July 25th:
With the weekend in sight, everyone was faced with the difficult decision of either staying at Ames to work on their individual projects or attending the 2013 NewSpace conference in San Jose. Those who could spare the time to network and attend panel discussions drove to San Jose and handed out their NASA Academy business cards to all those they met. Tom, Karl, Lynn, Emily and Brian decided to attend, and they learned a bunch of cool stuff about the current and future directions of the private and commercial space industry. Those who decided not to attend had a full workday again! (Woohoo, twice this week?!) Natalia and Janine attended the colloquium on the flyby mission to Mars, and later that evening the crew went to Panda Express for dinner while Janine went to happy hour and hung with the scientists on the SOFIA project. The crew spent the evening doing laundry and packing for their first long trip out of town to SoCal!

Friday, July 26th:
Wow, this week had a lot of brown bag discussions! Friday the group had their next brown bag discussion with Rich Pournelle from NanoRacks. When he offered to review the group proposal and assist with the project, the whole team was extremely grateful. The group really stepped up to convey the importance and significance of the project .

After a fine day of work, the group rushed home to finish packing up their things in preparation for the exciting weekend in Los Angeles. With all the cars packed and ready to go, the Academites set out for the adventure that awaited them – some had a more exciting drive than others! As all the cars were on their way, we soon realized that one group of fine navigators decided to take their fate into their own hands and take a shortcut to Interstate 5. After driving through mountains, large puddles, and farmlands, the group finally emerged victorious back on the highway, only two hours behind the rest of the convoy. With big sigh of relief and the infamously uttered words, “I am not a smart man”, all were back on track. Soon after midnight, the cars arrived at their classy hotel in Pasadena.

Saturday, July 27th:
After a quick nights sleep to rejuvenate, the Academites were back up and ready to go by 7:30am for breakfast. While half the group took a trip to the La Brea Tar Pits, the others ventured off to Hollywood.

The Tar Pits had fossils of extinct mammals that once roamed California. These ancient beasts, from the giant ground sloth to the woolly mammoth, amazed and frightened everyone who walked through the exhibits. While some enjoyed the museum, Karl and Mark decided to spend that hour reorganizing the whole gift store...what engineers!

Those who didn’t want to see the pits of tar opted for Hollywood. There, they enjoyed taking pictures along the famous Boulevard as local businesses heckled for tours of the city and pictures with costumed characters. After an hour of enjoyment from these designated areas, the group was off to the beach. With swim gear in tow and smiles on all their faces, the Academites determined that Santa Monica was the place to be. After a few hours at the beach, the crew once again loaded up the cars and set out for an alumni dinner at Plate 38. Due to massive amounts of Los Angeles traffic, everyone arrived at the classy restaurant just in the nick of time! After a delightful evening with the alumni of previous NASA Academies, the 2013 Ames Academy walked back down the street to their hotel for some much needed rest and relaxation.

Sunday, July 28th:
Like excited Academites on Christmas Day, Baba, Andrew C, Karly, Matt, Robyn, Aliyeh, Nat, Lauren, Christina, Alan, Andrew T, Tom, Karl, Alana, and Mark woke up bright and early to set out for... Disneyland! With aspirations to take pictures with characters and go on some awesome rides, they spent the day having a blast.

The other group slept in and decided that it would be nice to relax on the beach for the day. With Stephanie as their guide, Malibu was the chosen destination. The group rolled in with the giant expedition to a “lagoony and marshy” looking beach. After walking for a few minutes, they set up shop overlooking the foggy waters before falling asleep. Rejuvenated from their naps, they played some volleyball before heading out to lunch at a nifty little cafe. The rest of the afternoon was spent in even smaller groups. Marissa met up with an old friend from high school, while Michael and Brian decided to sleep in the car. Meanwhile, the girls and Quentin went... shopping! Quentin gave some suave French fashion advice and helped select some vibrant and colourful pieces of attire for the ladies. Good sport Quentin!

The group reunited later that evening at Griffith Observatory where they spent the last two hours of the day exploring the planetary museum, looking through the telescopes to see a number of celestial objects, and donning space suits in the gift store. After a long day, both Aero and Space retired to their rooms to unwind and look forward to what tomorrow’s events had in store.

Picture of the Week:
Week 7