PubTalk 1/2020 — The Rise of the USGS in Space Exploration

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The Rise of the USGS in Space Exploration: How the Astrogeology Science Center is integral to the past, present, and future investigation of the Solar System.

By Justin J. Hagerty, Director of the Astrogeology Science Center

  • Every astronaut to set foot on the Moon trained with the USGS in Flagstaff and we are currently training the next generation of astronauts.
  • Science staff conducts cutting edge research related to the major planetary bodies in the Solar System.
  • It is a world-wide resource for planetary geologic mapping and naming of features on solid surface bodies throughout the Solar System.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:56:29

Location Taken: AZ, US


[Please stand by for realtime captions.] >> Good evening everyone and thank  you for coming to the USGS  [Indiscernible - speaker too far  from the microphone] my name is  [Indiscernible name] and  thank you again for coming. Tonight  I have the pleasure of having Justin Haggerty  from the USGS  aster  geology partner and Dr. Haggerty 419 98, 2001, University of  New Mexico and Dr. Harry joined USGS  in four [Indiscernible - speaker too far  from the microphone]  and focused on the composition of  information [Indiscernible - muffled] the geologic evolution of [Indiscernible  - muffled] presidential early career awards

     in 2012  [Indiscernible - muffled] information  and evolution of [Indiscernible  - muffled]. He is now the director  of the USGS  geology center and to support the geological findings USGS geology  [Indiscernible -  speaker too far from the microphone]  in the general public's pursuit  innovative and [Indiscernible -  muffled].





 Hello everybody . Amazing turnout thank you for  coming out tonight. I'm excited  to get this presentation for a lot  of reasons tonight. First and foremost this is my first trip to Menlo  Park I know that there is a little bit of  a transition going on with Menlo  right now but I'm excited to have  the opportunity to be here tonight.  I'm also excited by the fact that many of you may know that  aster geology actually had its first  beginning here in Menlo Park and Jane Shoemaker  the founder of astro geology first  started with this concept of astro  geology in the early 60s  here  reporting at this center of operations  in Arizona. Another  Reno the reason I'm doing this presentation  tonight is that within even the  USGS whenever I travel  to all of  the different centers it is  everybody knows about astro geology  which is really interesting is  my opportunity to tell all of you about who we are and  what we do and where we came from  and what we're doing now in the  work we're doing in the future and  it is my goal by the end  of this presentation that you see  why I'm so excited to be a part  of astrogeology to be part of the  legacy and to have the opportunity  to work with so many incredibly  talented  people courting incredible  work and as a matter fact I think online tonight we have several  folks from the center who are joining  us and everybody in flight staff and  thank you for joining us. You probably  heard already I use the phrase astrogeology several  times and it's interesting this  cannot  as aster apology. Aster apology.  We actually --  [Indiscernible - muffled] so we will talk more about the  work that we do in astrogeology.  I want to start  off with talking a little bit about  our founder Dr. Shoemaker who again  basically started the field of astrogeology  and let me ask  a question before I go much further.  How many of you actually know the  meaning of the word astrogeology  with a show of hands really quickly. About five years ago it sounded interesting but where does it mean and where  does it come from and [Indiscernible  - muffled] origin

     for the training of the Apollo astronaut.

     That's something that they have as a provision  was to work very closely with NASA  to make sure we can train and unfortunately due to a medical  condition he was not able to become  an astronaut so he wanted to make  sure that he could do the next best  thing which is to train people that  were going to go there so that basically

     they wanted to make sure that people  could go would be [Indiscernible  - muffled] and another defining  characteristic [Indiscernible - muffled] ideas  making sure everybody's on board  and I have never had the opportunity  to meet Dr. -- but I've heard many  stories  about how of a visionary he was and the pursuit that he engaged  in. I was fortunate enough to  meet his colleagues and his wife,  Carolyn Shoemaker and [Indiscernible - muffled] which  is really important thing to have the fact  that not only was he able to do  that but he was able to inspire  and engage individuals for the vision to be implemented  and I think we have a long-standing  sentiment to that quality of having astrogeology continue to  be  here  many years after its foundation.  Many people tend to ask why would Jean actually want to go all the  way out to [Indiscernible - muffled] in the middle of nowhere to actually  do that kind of research . There is a variety of reasons  for the main reason is there is  a variety what we call terrestrial  analog in the air and what I mean  by that is if there is a geologic  process that we can investigate  in detail here and we suspect  that those processes are active  or present if we can understand them very  well here and when we observe them  on the planet we make sure that  we can use our knowledge from here and make inferences about those  features may have been formed and evolved in other planetary surfaces.  An example is [Indiscernible - muffled] there  is other features similar to that  solar system and more importantly  when Jean was looking in Arizona  in addition to being one of the  most gorgeous features in the world  he understood that the Grand Canyon  represented one of those features  that maintain a record of a variety  of geological processes. As such it was important when he  brought the astronauts out to bring  them to places like the ring Canyon so they can see for themselves  that record of geologic processes  and what they look like and understand  how they form and train the fundamentals on geologic  processes. Another reason why Arizona  was of interest was because of the  crater, east  of Arizona located in [Indiscernible]  this is a feature that was initially  thought to be volcanic and Jean  had a role in helping to define  that this was actually produced  by a large-scale [Indiscernible] so in addition to  finding things like Ira Nichols  and factors [Indiscernible - muffled] near the crater Jean also found evidence of a  rare mineral that at the time it was thought to be  produced only in the high pressure  high energy environment that could  only be impacted by what we see in the  crater. Understanding that this  is preserved impact crater on the  earth located  next to some of these other geological  features you can actually go there  and see the processes and understand  how important the process  like this is because if you look  at other planet [Indiscernible  - muffled] water erosion impact craters are  in massive important process for  the entirety of the solar system  and we have the best preserved ones  here and right outside our back  door it's really important for us  to go there and understand it and make implications for other type features on [Indiscernible  - muffled].  >> [Indiscernible - muffled] you see  a variety of other geological panic  features and this is a really  important volcanic [Indiscernible]  from the perspective it shows a  wide variety of volcanic types and  compositions and as you start to  look at it a lot of the flow features look very reminiscent of the salt and fleecy another planet  including [Indiscernible - muffled]  so provide a great opportunity to  show the astronauts what well-preserved features look like in the way they  understand that and they take that  knowledge and apply it to other  surfaces on places like the [Indiscernible  - muffled] so for example your start  to look at some of these features  in detail and compare them to what  you see on the [Indiscernible -  muffled] you can see fascinating  comparisons. When the astronauts were able to get to the lunar surface  they medially started to see a lot  of those features again that they  saw while they were in northern  Arizona and a variety of volcanic activity  so they were well prepared after  going to the training in northern  Arizona to make inferences about  what these features were and why  they were important for the human  revolution. Many of you recognize the footprint from the  Apollo astronauts.  The footprint represents quite a  few things. It represents the vision,  it represents the work by many many  people and thankfully astrogeology  was in large part  of helping to  get that footprint on the surface

     of the moon and in particular some  of the things we assisted with were  helping to testing of the Apollo astronauts as well as tools . We also helped to identify and  characterize and [Indiscernible - muffled] for the  Apollo astronauts and we  also participate in something known  as [Indiscernible  - muffled]. What that means is as  you collect information about the  things that are there you want to  find out tasks for where the us nuts are going to  go so they can make the most observations and the thing we are most known  for is training  the Apollo astronauts. So the training could be  done anywhere and much of that training  was actually done by  the space Center in Houston, Texas. It became clear that they want to make sure that  they [Indiscernible - muffled]  everything and environmental similar  to what they could possibly get  and you have seen the surface in northern Arizona  is similar to that. So  they tested the terrains and areas  that had the Sultan materials  and because of that they were able  to fully test all of these things  before they got to the moon and  they were assured that this would operate the tools would operate efficiently. Over on the right we have Apollo  17 astronaut Dr. Eric Jack Schmidt who is also  a geologist and the reason I we're showing  this image is because it represents  a unique thing  that is now commonplace in terms  of mission operation and it was  used basically with a television camera and television  at that time was novel technology and there were some people thought  it should not be used or would not  be used as part of the Apollo program.  But during the training of the astronauts  in northern Arizona it was found  that the it was critical that the  television cameras could be held while the astronauts  is conducting activities so the  experts could say don't go there,  you should go here, something like  that. Because of that the it really  helped them to determine that they  needed to have that technology . As I mentioned  in northern Arizona is a fantastic  analog in a way however, we do  have the [Indiscernible - muffled] relatively large to us but  we did not have an area where  it represented large amounts of craters in close proximity to each  other so when you look at this portion  of the moon there about the same  size of the area you can see here  a little dense coverage but we wanted  to make sure we have something  to try and help the astronauts train  in an environment like that and I can't imagine how  something like that would have been. [Indiscernible  - muffled] they took an image of that from  Oracle mission to the Apollo and  try to reproduce that as closely  as they possibly could and logistically trying to see  how it will be for the astronauts  to weave in and out of these craters  and also in doing that it gave them  some insight into what the craters  actually tell us about services. [Indiscernible -  muffled] ratio and also understanding the relationship  of the crater to one another and how they interoperate  to tell a story about the surface  history. If you want one comparison  of an overlay of [Indiscernible - muffled] it is a perfect match. There able to take that information  again do some  training with the astronauts while  they were here so perhaps more importantly help us understand those relationships spatially and  horizontally and vertically to one  another such that we can [Indiscernible  - muffled] first geologic map of the planetary [Indiscernible -  muffled] so this is the Apollo mission  and geologic maps for all missions  based on  these relationships and their absolutely  fascinating. I mentioned that first  finding was  more in detail but here is the [Indiscernible  - muffled] ended up not going  very far it was quite a miracle  to actually get that at all but  what they did is help  them understand where they wanted  to go to makes observations and  collect additional samples. Perhaps most importantly the thing  we were involved in was the astronauts  training and one thing that many  people may not be aware of is outside  of [Indiscernible - muffled] the majority of the Apollo astronauts  were [Indiscernible - muffled] and  well there were certainly exceptional and intelligent not all of that not all of them had background  in geology so they had to take a  crash course to understand what  the geologic principles were so  they can basically be the version  of Dr. Shoemaker while they were  out there making sure that they  collect the samples that they needed  to collect. So Jean along  with the colleagues throughout USGS,  NASA and other  institutions  altogether decided that they were  going to put together a program  of study for those astronauts and  they would take them to other locations  I showed you earlier, the Grand  Canyon, [Indiscernible - muffled]  to help train them in basic fundamentals  of geology so when they went to  the moon they could make key observations. The Apollo  14 the astronauts were getting really  really good at making these observations  and collecting samples and it became  apparent that they needed to go  further to make more observations. So the decision was made to come  up with rover allowed the astronauts  to travel greater distances to find new discoveries and collect more [Indiscernible - muffled].  In order to  be prepared for was to have enrolled they want to make sure they have  the training and  astrogeology  [Indiscernible - muffled] deciding  to build what you see her rover  geological [Indiscernible - muffled] a budget of about $1900 to  put this thing together which is  about  $16,000 of today's money which is  still pretty [Indiscernible - muffled]  so they put the astronauts on this  vehicle and it turned 90 degrees relative  to the front and rear and you can  get into a lot of really interesting

     places. So they are able to train  on that before the end up going  to the moon. Here is the version that did get sent looks like and  if you're interested in seeing what  over looks like we still have the  actual one in our lobby suddenly encourage everyone to check that out. This is the  one that again they used on the  moon and it's actually very [Indiscernible - muffled]  with the exception of the tires  we don't have pressurized wheels  but other than that everything is  functioning the same so after hearing when the Apollo astronauts came  back lessons learned they continuously cited their experiences in Arizona and the  things they learned, resources  and education and they found out  that more often than not that they  learn a lot from things that did  not go right and during training  in Arizona a lot of it did not go  right and they had to come up with  new ways of doing  things so they could continue with  the mission and that actually came  into being pretty handy later in  the expedition where [Indiscernible - muffled] one  of them actually broke loose and

     [Indiscernible - muffled] regular  soil of the region around the rover getting into all the  rover pieces and [Indiscernible - muffled]  the astronauts themselves it actually  became quite dangerous so USGS   had to come to the rescue one more  time and they had to make a geologic  map that we gave them an actually [Indiscernible - muffled] and  that's perfectly fine because it  helps them come up with a greater  solution.  One of the things that I will notice  possibly an urban legend but interesting and fun story to tell  so  [Indiscernible - muffled] he was  one of the [Indiscernible] focus  during Apollo 17  and he liked to tell a story that  Jack Schmidt was coming back on one of the [Indiscernible  - muffled] rover and as he was coming  back he had to look up to decide  any thought he saw this really interesting  color and he said that's amazing  I would love to get a sample of  that. He radioed back down and said  hey, I think I found something and no, your resources are low  we have to get back to [Indiscernible  - muffled] and he said he had a  mechanical failure [Indiscernible - muffled] wrap the sample and brought one  back. Turns that additional cameras were [Indiscernible - muffled] but it  turns out that these samples  these beads are very different  colors but some of the samples collected  actually was exceptionally [Indiscernible  - muffled] for our understanding  and further analyses within the  past 10 years has shown us that  these beads are [Indiscernible  - muffled] and some  of the collections of the unique  samples that were able to be identified with some of the training that  they had to let to collect these fascinating samples  that tell us a lot more about the  moon that we would not have had  the samples not been collected.  Another exciting time in our history and a  history of Astra geology as well  but as things started to come to  an end

     thanks to some of the collections  of these  unique samples that were able to  be identified by somebody who is  looking out to them because of some  of the training they had they were  able to collect these fascinating  samples that tell us a lot more about them had we not had those  samples collected. That was an exciting  time in our history not only NASA history  but the country's history of the  world's history and astrogeology  but as things started  to come to an end: budget started  to decline and got a little bit  scary for everyone and everyone  said okay, what's next? It was not  clear what the next  plan was going to be and if astrogeology  is going to survive so thankfully  some of the  center directors who  came before me had a vision to say we may not be doing them anymore NASA still has a plan we  need to make sure that we can do  whatever we can  to support Nassau to the best of  our abilities regardless where they  go. Since that time we have been  involved pretty much every successful active mission to the  solar system and my precursor science center director one of  his favorite things to say was

     USGS has been involved in every  successful mission all of the ones  that were not successful we were  not involved in so  just letting  you know that if you want to have a successful  mission make sure we are involved.  Since that time we have been involved  with everything missions to Mercury, the inner  solar system in creating this beautiful  mosaic you see here and going all  the way out to the outer reaches  of the solar system to Pluto again  and the mosaic involved in here  and moon and Mars clearly important  that we have people in all aspects  of the solar system. One of the  things that's really interesting  is that we also  made a conscious decision to broaden  the level of experience and depth of expense in our workforce  and a lot of people what they seem  to think when we say that we do  planetary science they think it's  an exclusive field, that's a really  unique expertise and it turns out  planetary science is far more than  that. It is all of  these different things combined  so we have been able to build a  workforce over the years and up  to today where we have people who  do all of these different things  that we come together as a team  to do some really fascinating work  to make sure we can explore the  entirety of the solar system. What  you see here is our business model  for how we are now the orders of NASA in terms of  supporting the like lifecycle of planetary spacecraft  missions and it's an endless loop where you start with research  operations as a scientist,

     they have data and to make an observation  and generate new knowledge and new  questions and those new questions  then need an answer and they can  be answered to development of instruments  and missions that can then go to  planetary bodies and make observations  to help answer those questions.  Once the data are collected from  those missions something needs to  be done with that data raw planetary  spacecraft data needs a lot of work  for it to be useful  to scientists and make interpretations. What you can see here is we go  then to the next stage where you  take that raw data and create the  spatial data infrastructure and  make the data ready for scientists  to make interpretations. Those data that need to be archived and disseminated throughout the world to other planetary  scientists so they in turn can make you observations that generates  new questions  that continues the cycle. In the  middle is our support staff, our administrative staff  or I.T. staff the heart of our operation  and they're the ones helping to  make sure we continue to be able  to operate at the level that we  do. At the top of that diagram use  of research operations. We have  world-class scientists in our group and I would love to be able to  tell you every single project that  all of them work on, it's simply  not enough time and hopefully we  will have some of them come out  and give similar presentations on  all the work they do but two examples  I have your one on the left is an  image of the surface of Mars. The  Rocky the way the color and material is the way of  an impact crater in this impact  crater was observed by an orbital  mission around Mars through an instrument called high-rise.  As this instrument was being flown  through the surface of Mars it would  take an observation or a time and  come back and take another observation  and in doing that they found that  one of these impact craters in particular  the first time around they do not  see anything of particular interest  in next time they came around they  saw these dark streaks you see here  these tens of meters long dark streaks  and that told him that there appear  to be some sort of active geologic  process and with NASA school at  the time being to  follow the water there were a lot  of people that thought perhaps this  could be signs of flowing liquid  water of the on the surface of Mars.

     Turns out that's a really difficult  thing to do but our signs have been  able to put together some really  fascinating products to take a look  at in immense detail and do in a  reliable manner such that they can  come up with an  alternative hypothesis that suggests  it was not water at all it was slope  activated sand flows that were a  result of interactions with with  events and that sort of thing. It  made a lot of people within NASA  a little bit angry that it was not  water in fact, we now refer to the  gentleman with this discovery as  the dream crusher but there is still  an active debate as to whether or  not these are actually strictly  sand drive features or something  else entirely. Over on the right  you may have seen there is an article  that came out yesterday talking  about one  of the moons around Saturn and this  is something we have been doing  a lot of work on lately. And it is covered on the outside by  an icy sphere and its thought there might actually be  a liquid water ocean underneath  that icy sphere so the long stretches  you see there are actually long  sisters that have water organisms  where water is heated and is extruded  onto the surface in the firm  form of volcanism.  and we have made sure that all this  data is put together that we are 100%  certain that the pixels are in place  when you see these features that  are active we can make certain that  they are really active in representing  the processes we believe that they  are which in this case appears to  be liquid water oceans underneath the icy  surface. We also have a variety  of people in our group that are active in planetary  spacecraft missions. The most active  ones being the Rovers on Mars including  MSL, and we have people  who actually do things that are quite similar to  what the Apollo astronauts did back  in the day which is to help them  make observations, collect those  observations, make new plans and decide where Rover is going to  go the next day and what new observations is going to make and what new sciences  being drive from those observations. It turns out that one of  our scientists actually was able  to put together this selfie which is one of the most popular imagers of the Mars curiosity Rover. Over the years after several decades  more and more missions are going  to more and more location psychology  increasing and getting better we  increasingly get more and more data  all the time and to the point that  becomes a little bit difficult to  handle. We at  astrogeology we have the imaging  note  of NASA's planetary data system  and what that means is that we have  data from all spacecrafts that have  been active since the beginning  of the spacecraft exploration era.  That's a lot a lot of data we have  about three petabytes of data that  we store in our centers which is  quite a bit for a center that only  about 65 people in size. The largest  center for data in the USGS

     that maintains a lot of data on  behalf of USGS and we are  second only to them in terms of  the amount of data we have. It is  one thing to store the data and  it's another to make it usable to  the planetary science community  so we have come develop a software  package called ices. We had the day before the other group  you might be thinking up and is  referred to integrated software imagers and spectrometers and it  standardizes it and makes it usable  in a way you can extract it and  send it to people throughout the  world so they can make sciences scientific observation so some  examples of that include things  like these elevation models and  this is a digital elevation model

     proportion of the surface of Mars  where the long axis represents kilometers  in length. The main reason for looking  at these 3-D structures is to provide you with a new perspective  looking at things even when you  looked at it in two dimensions for  a long time so when you see it in  three dimensions it open up the  relationships between features telling  you more about how those features  may have formed and involved and  how they're relative to one another. Another thing we do  is provide global mosaics in the  planetary science community. It may not seem like a big deal  because what some people think happens  is that if spacecraft goes to a  planet, it parks in front of the  planet and takes this amazing one-shot  image high-resolution image of the  planet and then you're done. Unfortunately  does not work like that. The orbiters  go around over and over and over  again and take millions of data  points and millions of images and  it's up to us to take  all those images, stitched them  together and produce this seamless  mosaic similar to what you see that  provides global geologic context  for planetary [Indiscernible]. These  are a few additional examples of some the work that  comes out as a result of taking  the raw data putting it through  your software package and the  software package has been open source  to the community so we are not getting  back from the entirety of the world  in terms of how to produce the best  possible spacecraft of software  extraction data. You can see a variety  of examples here of topographic  light imaging as well as correcting distortions in data but what you  see in the center is a lending ellipse  that was generated through putting  together a variety of data sets for the surface of Mars prior to  the landing of the Mars curiosity  Rover and it was our focus to help NASA and JPL to help understand  where they wanted to go why they  wanted to go there and certified  the site. Perhaps more poorly we  are not involved in the next generation  of rovers to the surface of Mars the Mars  2020 Rover which will hopefully  be launching in July. What you may  not recognize is that there is a  time difference between Mars and  the earth in terms of how it takes  the data to get here so you can  actually have a lot of things that  happen as a spacecraft is coming  down that can be quite devastating and it happens  before we even have any time to  do anything about it so the idea  was to  come up with an autonomous system  such that the spacecraft itself  can make real-time observations,  found out if they is any danger  the landing ellipse and to actually  make real-time adjustments if needed. Our folks worked very closely with  the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to  make sure this autonomous offer  was loaded on board along with the  orbital map data that was loaded  onto the spacecraft as well

     that could do real-time comparison.  Another thing that I refer to we  have done is planetary geologic  mapping. One of the main things  this is a long-standing program  and has been happening ever since 1963 and continue to  do mapping today and it is our goal  to the mapping of every solid body  in the entire solar system. But  the one I'm sure you hear is one  that actually just came out and  this is one of the moon and you think haven't we already  done all the geological mapping  we needed to do on the moon? Turns  out a lot of the geological mapping  that was done was done in a regional  scale at a variety of different  scales by different groups using  different methods so much so you  can actually take to the different  regions on the moon  that had been mapped by different  entities put them together and they  would not allow the different units,  different interpretations and it  was an arduous effort for us to have to go through and  make all of those adjustments to  make sure you can provide one unified  seamless geologic map. This is a  huge and ever and it's meant to be largely impactful  to your understanding of the moon  but also for potential for humans  to go to the moon in 2024 using  this information. I should also  note that another thing we do is  what we call planetary nomenclature and what that means is take for  example an impact crater and if  you have one person naming it one thing and another  person any get another thing we  have no idea potentially what one  is talking about is or what is referred  to the same thing and calling it  different things. So the international  astronomical Union charted us to  maintain an active database of all  planetary names  so that there is a standardized  way for everybody to refer to the  same things throughout the solar  system so you have to actually go  through a process to get a name  for new features that are discovered  and we help to maintain that selection for new features. One  of the things restarted over the  last couple of years is getting  back to one of the things we did  early in our history wishes to rest  or analog studies. For sometime  we were super active in primarily  planetary orbital and robotic lending  missions and with the goal of potentially  having humans going back to the  moon as early as 2024 we wanted  to make sure  that we were as educated as we could  possibly be about all the various terrestrial analogs throughout  the world so we could be some of  the world experts in helping to  train the next generation of astronauts  before they go to the moon. We also  work very closely with other USGS  centers including those in Hawaii  ,  at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.  I alluded to you earlier that the  volcanic features on the moon those  orange grass beats and the spot  that they were produced by feature  very similar to this so we had folks  who went out there and helped take  observations of this active flow  so that they could get a sense of  how these were produced and when  they're found on the planetary surfaces we can  infer processes just like this. So again we are doing this in anticipation  of the next generation of astronauts  going to the moon by 2024 and this  is the class it just graduated and  thankfully we were able to work  very closely with this class over the last year or so as they  came out to northern Arizona to  work with us and our NASA colleagues  to start going back to these places that the Apollo astronauts went going to the crater into the Grand  Canyon and checking out the San Francisco  volcanic field and being active  participants to understand the fundamentals  of geology. This is the goal that  NASA set forth for how we want to  try and get to the moon by 2024  and in addition to us helping to  train the next generation of astronauts we are also going to be  involved in every single one of  these stages that you see here with  the ultimate goal of the first,  getting humans to the moon by 2024  but then as you can see in the upper  right corner you can see the goal  of hopefully trying to get humans  to Mars within  the next decade. In the meantime  we want to make sure that we can  help take that information and engage  and inspire the world so we can  create the next generation of monetary  scientists and the next generation  of astronauts who want to go and  explore some of these questions  so if you have been to our science  center lately we've made a lot of changes to try  to get people more engaged with  the products we make and here we  have an example of a topographic  sandbox that several you may have  seen. We have one as well and over  on the right we have a scale model  of asteroid and asteroids are really  important as well for a variety  of reasons. There are new initiatives  in terms of understanding them for  potential resource mining and also  for planetary sensory  so we want to make sure people understand  what these things are and what they  look like and help engage them and  inspire the next generation we want  to inspire kids locally at the state  level and at the country level throughout  the world and as it's our hope  that perhaps you can even inspire  children in the galaxy far far away. Thank you so much for your attention. 


[Applause]  >>

     The flyers for that are on the back  table but if you have any questions  for Justin. There's a microphone  right here please just orderly  lineup and if you're not able to  get up here raise your hand and  I can read the microphone over to  you. 


We have plenty of time for  questions.  >> Just to get a handle on the size  of the database that's involved , how many what's  the storage size of mosaic like the mosaic of the moon  you're showing . 


The mosaics themselves tend to  be tens of hundreds of gigabytes  in some they can be as large as  terabytes but tens to hundreds of gigabytes and  that if you take that many start  putting them all together that's  when you start adding to petabyte  size.  >> Do  you communicate to these fellows  from other countries and Russian, Canadian and  a productive  of a collaboration you have been. 


That's something we have done as the relatively new director I want  to make a more concerted effort  to make sure we are engaging with  our international colleagues. We  do work pretty regularly with our  colleagues in Berlin, and Canadian  space agency and throughout the  European space agency's and even  with the Japanese space agency.  Those have been hit and miss but  I would like to make it much more  concerted effort to make sure we  are all working together sharing  data in a standardized way so that  we have all have access to the same  data and can work together to make  new discoveries. 


What was the most  surprising discovery from the samples  that the astronauts collected on  the moon? 


You're asking somebody who's  exceptionally biased about that.  My own personal bias is as you heard in my instruction  there is a radioactive trace element  called thorium and thorium is a  heat producing radioactive element  that was pretty surprisingly discovered  on the moon I don't think people  thought it was going to be there  and it was certainly not in any  large quantities and it turns out  that thorium is one of the key elements  to help us understand the illusion  of the moon and why you have the  Celtic volcanism focused squarely  on this side of the moon so making that the story  and combining it with orbital observations  of very large aerial abundances  of thorium across the near side  of the moon was one of the major discoveries. But there is  you discoveries made all the time  again water was one of them that  was never expected.  There is a right of other things.  There are some organics that have  been discovered as well now that  we are able to the text abundances a really small small levels  that were not expected that may  have been from impacts from organic  meteorite so there's  a lot of the scar is actually that  have been made or lost the reason  we continue to make more and more.  People think that we have been there  done that but because of new technologies  that can be applied we are making  new discoveries all the time. 


Maybe a  follow-up question to the collaboration  question. Is it true that China is going  to be exploring the moon actively  soon? 


They are, actually. 


Will be be collaborating on their  side of the moon? 


It is a little difficult right now is a little bit difficult  for us to work with China as a federal  government agency but there are  other entities, space ask for example working with the Chinese government  to some extent so it is  the idealized version would be yes  all of us would work together it  is a little bit difficult right  now though. But yes, they do have  active rovers in orbit right now.  >> Thank you for coming out in for  the talk. It was quite good. Can  you elaborate more on distribution  of the thorium and is it in fact distributed because the moon was tightly locked or other -- I'm just wondering more about  the relationship. 


 I might have to talk  to you about this off-line because  I can go on for hours but I will  tell you that the model at least  as we thought was that thorium used  to be globally distributed and it  was caught between the thick layer of the cross and  the mantle and this really thin  layer of  heat producing elements basically  thorium, uranium and other heat  producing elements. There was a  giant in fact called South Pole Aitken  basin and it was a glancing blow  and only an impact that size would  have completely destroyed the moon  but in this instance because it  was a glancing blow the ideas that  it took this material full of thorium  and concentrated it to the  impact on the near side and that  material then got transmitted to  the interior of the moon the mantle  down below and all of it was concentrated  right below the near side of the  moon where the decay of the thorium went to  the heat producing to the production  of heat nothing of the mental irruption  of the volcanism only on  the near side of the moon. That's  the quick summary but I'm happy  to talk more about it afterwards. 


Are there any  uses of

     AI in your tools and technology  for some Voyager lending suffer  right obstacle avoidance and also  navigation on the penitentiary.  >> We are always exploring new technologies  and techniques and we are involving  artificial intelligence and machine  learning technologies that were using to investigate  the planetary surfaces that reminds  me that we are also investigating  the use of augmented reality and  virtual reality as well particularly  in the training of the astronauts  and as they come out, we're going  to be experimenting with the use  of AR as you move forward.  >> Did I hear correctly that some of the sealed lunar samples  in Houston have been opened or will  be opened or have been opened? 


Yes. The ones you are referring  to

     was one of the drive tubes from  Apollo 16 so the astronauts when  they went there instead of drilling  they took a two and they were able  to hammer down and seal it for posterity  effectively and bring it back and  it had been since the 60s that that  drive drive to was closed and sealed  and it was recently opened within  this last year and a of my PhD advisor  is actually one of the persons involved in this sample  analyzing so I'm inspecting to see  some really fascinating discoveries  to come out of that. 


So the research is certainly  not complete yet? 




Was the intent to preserve this  for modern technique  or for new generations? 


Exactly. And  to make comparisons over time see  how things may have changed. One  of the really interesting thing  is that people are interested in  is a concept known as the space  weathering. The hope is that with  the drive tube you're going to retain  kind of that stratigraphy of the concept you  see what the space weathering affected  the uppermost parts of the drive  tube as opposed to something down  lower so that's why to be something  that had not been identified at  that time. There is any process  that people are really exceptionally interested in that  can now be investigated with that  concept in mind but yes you technologies  as well.  >> Earlier you touched a little bit  about the imagery that comes from  your department. How much is it that your group  does is everything that I see here  the pictures I see in the news and  the media the ones that look amazing  is that from your group or is that  from a different group and can you  talk a little bit about how long  it takes to put those together and  how realistic they are? The colors  are amazing and thinking about the  colors, there's another real colors. 


A lot of great questions. In  general, we work with a lot of different  entities all that the planetary  science community to generate those  but yes, in a lot of instances we  are responsible for some of the  things you see particularly those  large global mosaics. Those do take  an immense amount of time . Like I said there's millions of  data points and it takes our supercomputing  clusters it takes are educated dedicated  staff and the army of  students to go through and process  all of this information to make  sure it aligns perfectly and happens  in fits and starts and can happen  over years. The colors you actually  saw our real colors but  many instances are the ones you see will be filters  that are used by instruments to  look at different wavelengths that will tell us about the compositions  of different materials when you  look at them through a different  filter or lens. You always want  to be a little bit aware so for  example one of the things we recently  generated is a topographic map of  the moon that we actually converted  to a rock in the  putdown in our education and outreach  center for kids to come out and  walk on. It is in blues and greens. Is a  color ramp that we chose to better  represent the differences in topography  and the question we get all the  time well, we did not realize Mars  was green. Why is that? It gives  us the opportunity why  you have that difference in color  skills because they will tell you  slightly different things and bring  things out in a way that you may  not have expected if you are looking  at visible light only. Did that  answer your question? Yeah.  >> Is any  of your  groups work include  establishing colonies on  the moon for extended stays and if so, does it include energy production and  if so, thorium  have anything to do with that? 


I'm so happy their survey questions  about thorium. To answer the first  question in terms of actually building  anything or having an actual colony  building partner not so much involved  in but the second part of your question  terms of energy resources we are  getting more involved in.  You may  be familiar with the fact that the  USGS here  is responsible for finding a lot of energy deposits  and resources so why not take that  expertise in applied to understanding  another planetary surface so we  are actually currently involved  in several different initiatives  to explore resources on the moon  as well as resources on things like  asteroids. Thorium while it is largely  disseminated across the near side  of the moon and concentrated in  such a way that it would look like  it will be useful it is not in such  large abundances that would make  a primary resource unfortunately  but that's why we are exporting  things like solar illumination,  trying to find areas where for example  there is permanent exposure to light  all the time. On the moon there's areas of permanent light  and eras of permanent shadow in  both of those are interesting from  an energy resource perspective one  because permanent light you can  use solar panels in one from the  permanent dark is eras where we  think there might be large concentrations  of water ice and that's one of the  goals ideally of the Artemis mission  to go to the South Pole and help  determine whether or not these concentrations of  water ice are really water ice or  not. The observations we are getting  our telling us two different things.  One is thing it could be large concentrations  of water ice and other suggested  could be solar wind and planted  hydrogen that looks to remote-sensing  data like water and hydrogen so it  will be really important for us  to go up there to find out if these  are actually real ice deposit because  if they are they can be utilized  for future colonization. 


I'm sure you know about the HBO  series from  the earth to the moon in a particular  episode where they talk about the  astral geology astrogeology which is one of my  favorite episodes but as I learned  tonight  they totally shortchange Dr. Shoemaker it appears because  I think they mention MIT or Caltech some Dr. silver which I'm sure was a good fellow who did good  work but they did not mention Shoemaker  at all as I recall and I'm just  curious maybe 40 off-color comments you think  you got shortchanged in that episode? 


I will certainly admit I am biased  and even though I never got opportunity to get to know Jean he was exceptionally  influential in a lot of the  levels but he was not the only one  there were people like others and  people that were in involved in  all stages and they work together as a team  I'm sure they butted heads and they  had a strong opinion some more prominent  than others because they were willing  to be at the front of the crowd  but I would say that it would have  been nice to see a little bit more  about Jean but it really was a team  of people who did all that work  so it's fair that the information  they provided would've been nice  to see a little bit more about that.  >>

     While we still have you on the horn  so to speak of your perspective  as a science director, what would  you give in terms of  your advice for geologists who are now selecting  a program of study. 


The thing we find most often  when we are trying to inspire and  engage next-generation there's  this concept of planetary science  is this unique singular thing that is only made for a few people to  do and as I try to allude to in  that one diagram planetary science is this amalgamation of a white  righty of expertise and skill sets  and it will be to let people know that any skill that you  have as long as he wanted with passionately can be brought to bear in terms  of being part of our team to help  make some new discovery so you have  to be a geologist or you don't have  to be just a computer scientist  you can be a variety of things to  help become part of  our team.



Please join me in giving him  another round of applause. Thank  you, Justin. 




Thank you all for joining  us tonight and drive safe home  and see you next month. 


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