Lunar and Planetary Adventures in Houston: Part 2

Hello readers! It has been almost 8 weeks since my last post and I cannot believe how quickly time has flown! It is now my final week in Houston and my project is coming to an end.

New Lunar Rover designed for long range surface exploration of the moon.

New Lunar Rover designed for long range surface exploration of the moon.

Last week was the deadline for the extended abstract describing, in a nutshell, my project – the aims, how to go about completing the aims, what I found out and what all of this actually means. (This will be available online on the LPI website in a couple of weeks). The good news is the map is finished, the data has been collected and a good set of conclusions can be made from this data. I will also be able to present my work at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) next spring here in Houston!

So what about the final week? The abstract may be finished and submitted but the final presentation date is looming… On Thursday 8th August, all of the LPI Interns will be presenting their work in a series of 20 minute presentations throughout the day. This means working hard to make sure the presentation goes fairly smoothly which, all being well, it will do! Presentations will be given in a lecture hall to the other interns, their advisors, other staff scientists working at LPI and post-doctoral staff so nerves will definitely set in by Thursday morning.

On the up-side, with hard work comes great times and I have had some of the most amazing times here in the US! As interns, we have had the privilege of attending a number of tours around the Johnson Space Centre during the course of this internship. Just last week, we visited building 9 where the Orion Spacecraft and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle are being designed, assembled and tested. There is also a replica of the International Space Station used as a training facility for astronauts and a space-shuttle cockpit, also used for training purposes.

We also had the amazing opportunity of meeting two astronauts – Don Pettit and Stan Love. Don has been in space for over a year in total for long duration missions aboard the ISS. Stan has completed two spacewalks when he visited the ISS and both gave us a unique insight into the life of an astronaut – both the great times and the hardships encountered. The experience certainly inspired us all to work hard and aim high!

USS Lexington, Aircraft carrier turned floating museum. Amazing experience.

USS Lexington, Aircraft carrier turned floating museum. Amazing experience.

Outside of the realms of NASA and USRA, since my last post I have spent weekends in New Orleans and Corpus Christie and had day trips to Galveston Beach, the Armand Bayou Nature Reserve, the local shopping mall (many times) and, of course, Space Centre Houston!

New Orleans was truly amazing; from the bustling night-life of Bourbon Street to a leisurely stroll by the Mississippi and an evening spent in a true Jazz club, it is now one of my favourite cities that I have visited. Corpus Christie was a weekend of firsts – first time camping on a beach, first time building and lighting a campfire, first time Boogie Boarding and first time swimming in the ocean. I also got to visit the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier turned into a floating museum (which had my favourite fighter jet on the flight deck – the F14A Tomcat) and I saw the Milky Way, the sun rise over the open ocean and baby sea turtles being released into the wild. Without a doubt, it was one of the most enjoyable weekends of my life so far.

Cathedral and park opposite Café du Monde, New Orleans

Cathedral and park opposite Café du Monde, New Orleans

With those inspiring thoughts I will say farewell for now and look out for my next blog when I arrive home. By that time my abstract will have been published and uploaded onto the LPI website for you all to read. Enjoy!

About Dayl Martin

I'm currently a first-year PhD student at the University of Manchester studying lunar meteorites and minerals using mid-infrared light. Particular interests of mine are lunar rocks and minerals, geological mapping and spectroscopy of planetary surfaces and the formation and evolution of the Moon. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me via e-mail. Happy reading!
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