Houston we have a problem…Nat is here!!!

Sorry about the title guys, had to be done at some point. Anyways hello from Houston everyone! And oh my is it hot!!! I have been here 4 weeks already (time flies when you’re having fun and working hard of course) and I don’t recall the temperature dropping below 26°C. That would be our peak summer temperature back in Manchester (UK). I was warned I wouldn’t get used to it, and they sure were right…although I have found a new love, air-conditioning 🙂

So why am I here? Well, like Dayl, I too am on a summer internship with USRA (Universities Space Research Association) at NASA’s LPI (Lunar and Planetary Institute). The Lunar exploration summer internship has been running for several years now with students participating from all over the world. The focus was to evaluate the best possible landing sites on the Moon, whereby the science priorities recommended by the National Research Council’s document ‘The Scientific Contexts for Exploration of the Moon’ (NRC, 2007) can be addressed. The NRC (2007) plus the work from previous interns generated ‘A Global Lunar Landing Site Study to Provide the Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon’. This summer our focus uses all this material to assess one or two high priority landing sites that have been proposed. So far we have looked at some really close up WAC and NAC images (wide angle camera and narrow angle camera respectively) taken by the LROC on the LRO mission. It’s amazing you can actually see individually boulders on the surface. You all can check them out for yourself here.  Also, learning about the engineering side of missions is a very new and cool experience for me.

Image produced on LROC's quick map. Image made up of narrow angle camera images (NAC) of the Lunar crater Tycho's central peak. Look you can see actual boulders :-)

Image produced on LROC’s quick map. Image made up of narrow angle camera images (NAC) of the Lunar crater Tycho’s central peak. Look you can see actual boulders 🙂

As Dayl already mentioned, the LPI’s library is remarkable, some of the original documents from the Apollo era and various original images are a great way to pass the time. I think I need at least a week just to go around and check out everything.

Aside from work, we have been trying to find the real Texas experience, and trust me Texas does everything big. Including the bugs, I swear some of the cockroaches outside could evict me and move in to my apartment, they are huge. The wildlife here is everywhere and amazing; just down the road we have a rather large pond with alligators, turtles (which we first assumed to be baby alligators, their noses that is. Whoops!!) and extremely large fish. I think the gator has a fondness of us as he likes to follow us up the stream (well I think he just sees us as dessert!). The view from our work station at the LPI gets us regular shows with the deer’s grazing outside. At some point we plan to do some line dancing, but I’ll let you know how that one goes…

A very pleasant view from our work station at the LPI

A very pleasant view from our work station at the LPI

Oh I almost forgot about the storms here, just to add to the weather story. They follow on the Texas way of being large too. We have had a few since arriving and the thunder is like bombs going off around you. A little unreal when you first hear it, especially when it makes you jump out of bed.

Last week we visited the Space Center Houston, think it’s all I have ever wanted to do, so dream come true right there J I have a whole blog about that day for you guys to check out at some point. And next weekend we are off to New Orleans.

Apart from that, I’m hoping all the mass spectrometers back at uni are all happy and well. And I am also sending the weather back home too. Till next time, I will leave you with this final image, take care y’all!!

A super cool sunbow we spotted in downtown Houston

A super cool sunbow we spotted in downtown Houston

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