Announcement NASA AMA: Charles White Knowledge Management Analyst

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Oct 25, 2019
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Hi Mr. White,

As you may know, the NASA Administrator has reinstated Pluto as an official planet making it once again the 9th planet in our Solar System. Regardless whether this is just his personnel choice or an official NASA position, does JPL follow this direction or do they have their own official position?
 
Oct 27, 2019
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Hello Charles,

We all know all living things use solar energy for survival. Can we use solar energy to convert other metal to other metal? For example -- small iron ball to small golden ball with use of solar energy.
 
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Oct 27, 2019
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Hello Charles,

We know that human's mind and his body could be the most powerful source of any kind of energy. Why are we focusing on developing more robots and artificial intelligence,?
 
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Oct 27, 2019
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How'd you get the title of "Space Pope"?

What's the biggest, most incredulous Eureka-style revelation you've had on the human factors in engineering side of things?
Hello Everyone.

I’m looking forward to this AMA and I want to get to as many questions as possible over time. Let it be known, that I’m not an official NASA, or JPL spokesperson, nor do I represent EVE Online (the spaceship game) at all. However, I am a fan of both my employer and the game. So please note that I answer as a (proud) private citizen who enjoys his work.

Since I am going to take my time, I have some fellow employees, and some gamer friends that I can ask them questions and I’ll try to get an answer back. I’m not shy at saying “I don’t know” because as a space employee, that is one of the first things I learned. Never make up an answer if you don’t know it, because in some cases, nobody knows!

Thank you for the opportunity to share part of my excitement with what I do with all of you! :)

-Charles
 
Oct 27, 2019
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Dear Mr. White:
My question is about the exploration of Mars, and whether NASA is open to new technologies. I am concerned about the health and safety of the astronauts. Most missions call for a six month trip to Mars, 500 days on the surface and a six month return trip. Instead, it would be much better if we could get to Mars within 40 days: 20 days to accelerate and 20 days to decelerate, followed by 10 days on the surface and a 40 day return trip. This would require advanced nuclear propulsion. I was wondering if you support the development of advanced nuclear propulsion and whether NASA is open to new technologies. I call the mission the Mars Rapid Direct Mission and it would require the development of a relativistic fusion propulsion system.
 
Oct 27, 2019
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Hi, I'm a sci/fi fan and having seen so many ideas from science fiction become reality ie the star trek communicator- mobile phone and first man on the moon - apollo
So how come our iss isn't a circle with artificial gravity brought about by controlled spin which surely would help with the reduction in bone and muscle density caused by weightlessness of being in space ?
 
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Oct 23, 2019
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Would it cost too much to build a large modular style space craft and assemble it in orbit, then fueling it up there, this ship would never land on a planet or moon, it would just be a transport for smaller landing ships ?
 
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Oct 23, 2019
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Hi Charles - A few questions:

How are Curiosity's wheels holding up today?
What was the expected life-span of the wheels?
Are Mars 2020 rover's wheels designed differently?

Thanks!
Hello Spaleta_S_O,

Well, the wheels are doing better because we are taking great care of them by having the Curiosity rover avoid 'ventifacts' and other hazards. In some cases, we are even driving the rover in reverse (it really does not matter which way it goes).

The original mission design for Curiosity was for two years, however, the mission has been extended indefinitely as long as it is operating. John Grunsfled, NASA's associate administrator for science has said, "... that could be a long time." Some estimates are as much as 55 years if nothing breaks. So great care is needed to make the wheels last as long as they can.

Mr. David Oberhettinger (former JPL CKO) and I have written a lesson learned document on the topic about the wear and tear on the rover wheels (one of my favorite lesson investigations). From many of the lessons we have learned, we have changed a few aspects of the wheels. New grousers (treads) to help sideways slip and traction, a change in thickness of aluminum, and a narrower wheel are among the changes for Mars 2020.

Here is the Lesson Learned we authored:

Here is the official NASA website for Curiosity:

Here is a general article about Curiosity by Space.Com:

-Charles White
 
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SpacePope

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Oct 23, 2019
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Hi Charles!.. I've an interesting but completely new discussion on Dark Energy.

Could Dark Energy be a repulsive force - something like Antigravity that exists between Dark Matter and accounts for accelerated expansion of the Universe, since Dark Energy and Dark Matter are the dominating entities of the universe and counter acts the weaker Gravity between lesser normal matter?
What do you think about this?
Hi Ramakrishnan,

Hmmmm... well here it comes... I don't know. <-- Always say that when you really don't know.

What I do know is there are many universities and professors doing all they can to discover what Dark Matter and Dark Energy is all about. Personal opinion, I really don't like the terms because they are not really dark, we just can't (at the moment) detect what it is because they do not interact with normal matter (the things our detectors are made of) so this in a problem. However, we do see the effects.

What do I think about this? I love it. I love there is something there but elusive to us. In my lifetime I have seen an image of a Black Hole which I did not expect, so I can only hope there is something discovered about Dark Energy and Dark Matter while I'm still alive.


-Charles White
 
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Oct 23, 2019
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Here is a question for you.

Has anyone ever tried to grow crops in simulated martian soil? And if so, what were the results?

In other words, could the potato patch seen in the movie The Martian ever be a reality?
Hi EjmMissouri,

I don't know... but I'm going to ask my co-workers about this one. [So watch this space.]

-Charles White
 

SpacePope

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Oct 23, 2019
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Mr White: I got to see the life-size lunar lander at burning man this year. What are some of your favorite space-themed pieces there, and what would you like to see at burning man? I hung out with the "BRASA" folks which was across from Math Camp at 3:14. Can you talk more about your work with Desert Wizards of Mars in 2020?
Hello Spacemanspiff,

Oh my, what a wonderful Burning Man project the lander was this year!! I wished I could have spent more time with it. My favorite space-themed pieces are of course.. my own... the Mars Rover Art Car that my friends, the Desert Wizards of Mars made in my back yard (not NASA or JPL affiliated at all, just a back yard project of art).

Makezine article about the Desert Wizards of Mars and the Mars Rover Art Car

We made our own rover and it had a web-camera (and other consumer tech) on it, and we were the first art car at Burning Man to broadcast live from the playa. Below is our video we made (it's about an hour-long but you can fast forward through it).

The video is also my favorite space-themed piece, the Cradle of Mir. The Cradle of "Mir" was a 36 feet tall pyramid housing a 1:3 scale model of the space station "Mir" and it was brought to Burning Man by artists from Moscow, Russia.

Video from Mars Rover Art Car of Cradle of Mir:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdwqMCPxKz8


Video of Cradle of Mir, and burning of it by Mark Day:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qicbb4y1YIw


We are still in the planning phase for the Desert Wizards of Mars in 2020, so nothing to announce yet!

-Charles White
 
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Oct 23, 2019
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Charles: Can you discuss how NASA plans to send me to MARS? I know the SLS and the new Artemis capsule will play a significant part in the voyage. I know that it is larger than the Apollo spacecraft but to keep 6 astronauts cooped up in the spacecraft for a voyage of 8 months seem more like torture to me. And after arriving at Mars and descending to the surface, after 8 months in zero-G, they may not even be able to walk. Are there plans to make a larger vehicle with a rotating section to provide for at least a 1/3G gravity to give the astronauts room to move about and .minimize the physical degradation effects of zero-G? Just curious.

I can discuss how NASA is planning to send Richard D, to Mars... we have no plans. (smile)

Recently we have just made new plans to get to Mars, and that is by way of the Moon. Personally, I have always been a fan of the Moon Gateway concept because it is only three days away. There are many lessons we have to learn before we go to Mars, and our current goal is to use the Moon in a whole new way. We have just found water in 2009, and confirmed it in 2018. THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!!!

This is currently my favorite video about how we are going to the Moon to get to Mars... WE ARE GOING!!

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vl6jn-DdafM


-Charles
 
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Oct 23, 2019
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What was the Worst Space Launch
Hi Blisters,

This is a very serious question for me.

As a Knowledge Management professional, I keep a copy of both the Rogers Commission Report of Challenger, and the Columbia Accident Investigation Report on my desk. More than once have I had to refer to them during meetings. May we never forget, and use the lessons learned from these events!

"The future does not belong to the fainthearted, it belongs to the brave." -President Ronald Regan

Challenger Report:

Columbia Report:

-Charles White
 

SpacePope

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Oct 23, 2019
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Hello - thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions .

Mine stems from a very recent development: How do you feel that this "Quantum Computer Supremacy" will affect the ongoing projects at NASA and related industries? Should we anticipate acceleration of space exploration projects, or are they too dependent on manufacturing and budget restrictions to make use of this progress?

Hi AlexK,

Wow is this an interesting time to be alive!!! Yes Quantum Computing is going to affect all types of upcoming projects at NASA in the future because we have a habit of using what is reliable, and fast. We are also doing research into this field... check out this link:


-Charles White
 
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Oct 23, 2019
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Hi!


What would you say about the possibility of using the method of thermo-electrics to cool rocket engines or other surfaces?
Where would you put the job opportunities of people specialising in thermodynamics in 5 years?
Hi Error2002 <--- love that name

So I don't know about thermo-electrics (other than basics) however the second question...

JPL Jobs!!!
 
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Oct 23, 2019
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Hello Mr. White.

It is really hard know what programs or universities we should aim for if we want to work in Space related jobs. Things are changing fast and everyone has different suggestions. What do YOU suggest for someone who will graduate high school in 2020? What degrees are the most in demand? What programs are most likely to get us a job in a meaningful and interesting role at NASA?
I mean most of my friends don't have any idea what direction we should go these days and my mom says I should just try to take general programs until I decide what direction to go in. I am most interested in engineering but general engineering programs don't really give a solid plan to get into Space engineering.
Thank you,
Jamie
Hi KingstonJ,

Well beyond the obvious jobs, there are many things you can study to work at NASA or JPL. We are a large organization and I came in through the backdoor as an Information Technologist. Later, a new field was created that DID NOT EXIST when I went to school, and that is the field of Knowledge Management. While you can get a degree today in KM now, there was no way to predict what was coming in the future. I made it all the way to the position of Deputy Chief Knowledge Officer of JPL (now I'm a Knowledge Management Analyst) and I worked to define those positions for academia. What I'm saying is... we need everyone, with many skills.

But my best advice is to see what jobs we are hiring for today. You can do that by watching our JPL Jobs site:

As for being the next Space Pope... well that was not up to me, it just happened. So as Carl Segan once said to me, "Good luck with that!" (he told me that when I told him I want to promote space and science to the public one day as he inspired me).

-Charles White
 
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Oct 23, 2019
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I have been studying U.F.O. cosmology for over 25 years and developed a theory of how the universe works based of well founded testimony by highly credible observers, Police, pilots (VFR quells), Military personal (who stand to loose face ), politicians, Doctors, Lawyers, and many others on what they saw in conjugation with trace evidence, that can be even today, the theory explains the expansion of the universe why the galaxy are speeding up along with what could be a answer of where Dark Matter and Dark Energy. May I send it to you for your opinion
Hi Cat-Ret-Jet,

Well, I recommend you publish a paper in an international journal! Get it peer-reviewed. I'll be happy to read that for sure!!!

If you don't know how to start, here is a good video:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obv8Zqa_jYk


-Charles White
 
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Oct 23, 2019
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HI, Charles.

Do you know if there are any serious plans to explore, with the goal of eventually habitating within, the caves and/or lava tubes on the moon (or Mars for that matter)? It seems to me that they would have quite a few advantages over surface habitation.

Thanks,

Chris
Hi Photonboy <--- Another cool name

YES YES YES!!! In fact, I wrote an internal Blue Sky proposal a few years back educating my fellows regarding the feasibility of Lunar Lava Tubes. While we have no set plans yet in place, I'm always first to <cough> LAVA TUBES <cough> during meetings.

[[ Insert a photograph of me wearing cold-weather gear and a yellow hard hat, with a few of friends entering a lava tube in Iceland here. ]]

I believe it is the best place to set up a habitat but first, we need to explore lava tubes with Robots. JPL is currently developing some specialized robots that would be perfect for this mission. My professional friend Dr. Laura Kerber made a great presentation to the Keck Institute for Space Studies (at Caltech). I was in the audience for this presentation.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdv_V8Hu9kw


-Charles White
 
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Oct 23, 2019
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While more space travel and exploration is in our future, I wonder if spending more dollars on curing cancer and life threatening disease here on earth would be more important. It's not like Mars or Neptune are going anywhere soon.
Hi Zoomo1

I LOVE THIS QUESTION EVERY TIME!!

The ol'e "why waste money in space?" <--- while that is not your question, it does come up a lot in my 32+ years working in the business.

So first off...

No money is spent in space! Most of it was spent at my dentist's office on my front teeth and some molars in the back of my mouth. There are enough crowns in there to make me a king! NASA money is spent on the ground and for every $1.00 invested by you (and me) as a taxpayer, we get back about $7 to $14 in new revenue, all from spinoffs and licensing agreements.

Also, every state in the union gets some of this money in their economies (like my dentist)...

That amounts to $17.6 billion (in 2014) NASA dollars spent to an economic boost worth as much as $246 billion annually. This is why investing in space and research actually pays in the long run.

I worked with a fellow by the name of Mark Rober. He helped create JPL Wired, an internal wiki that I now co-manage. He has left NASA/JPL and has started making YouTube videos and in this one he goes into details about the NASA budget:

View: https://youtu.be/lARpY0nIQx0



So secondly... what has NASA done for me?
Well here is a video by a one of our fellow citizens that explains it quite well:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mcYIzg1GT8



And third... check out one of my favorite websites:

-Charles White
 
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Oct 23, 2019
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Hi Charles!

Thanks so much for your awesome answers from Space.com's readers. It's been a great way to celebrate our reborn Forums. I did have a question tat I hope has not been asked yet.

What, in your opinion, has been the most transformative technology in space exploration (or in communicating space achievements) during your time with JPL and as the Space Pope?

I'm old enough that I remember having to request imagery and posters from NASA directly, and am amazed at how close access to space content has become.

Thanks!

Tariq
Hi Tariqmalik, thank you for inviting me!

RIGHT?!?! The Internet is by far the #1 thing I've seen (and done). In fact, I got in trouble putting up some of the first JPL websites. There was a JPL Rule at the time that nobody could open a computer inside JPL to outside JPL, and a webserver had a million hits in one week (that was a record in 1994). So I got called to Building 180 and had to have a face to face meeting with the Director, Ed Stone. Dr. Stone then went to Washington to brief NASA HQ on what we had done. I posted the first Basics of Space Flight webpage and that won a Magellan Award (now defunct) and my friend Ron Balke posted the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 webpage (which is still up and one of the oldest pages on the web).


Today I'm keeping close tabs on smallsats and cubesats. They have limitations but they are becoming more important to larger science goals. I have lunch sometimes with the engineers of the MarCO cubesats that became the historic first-ever cubesats to go interplanetary!

MarCO Video:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dS_Q7BFGuu0


There are more exciting cubesat missions coming so stay tuned!

-Charles White
 
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