Press Release

AAS Conference to Focus on Space Exploration technology

By SpaceRef Editor
November 13, 2002
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Technologies and Partnerships: Innovations for Space Exploration” is the theme of the 2002 national conference and annual meeting of the American Astronautical Society (AAS).

The conference will be held Nov. 19-21 at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, 1250 Lakeside Drive, Sunnyvale, Calif. The conference will provide a forum for engineers, scientists and policy makers from industry, government and academia to discuss the impact on space exploration missions from breakthrough technologies. New approaches to partnering with NASA and other government agencies will also be discussed.

Renowned Mars planetary scientist Dr. Chris McKay of NASA Ames Research Center will be the keynote speaker at the opening session of the conference on Tuesday, Nov. 19. McKay is scheduled to discuss “The Case for Life in Space.”

McKay received his doctorate in astrogeophysics from the University of Colorado in 1982 and has worked as a research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center since that time. His current research focuses on the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. He is also actively involved in planning for future Mars missions including human settlements. McKay has been involved with polar research since 1980, traveling to the Antarctic dry valleys and more recently to the Siberian and Canadian Arctic to conduct research in these Mars-like environments.

Also featured on the first day of the conference will be the presentation of the 2002 Carl Sagan Memorial Award to the California and Carnegie Planet Search Team. The team’s leader, Dr. Geoffrey Marcy, professor of astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley, will give the Sagan Lecture. The annual Sagan award, presented jointly with The Planetary Society, recognizes demonstrated leadership in research or policies that advance the exploration of the cosmos.

Also featured at the conference will be Dr. Paul Davies, an internationally acclaimed physicist, writer and broadcaster who will discuss “How to Build a Time Machine” at the conference awards banquet on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. A professor of natural philosophy in the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University, Sydney, Davies has authored more than 20 books, including ‘The Mind of God,’ ‘About Time’ and ‘How to Build a Time Machine.’

Another scheduled speaker is James Crocker, vice president, Space Exploration Systems, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., who will discuss “NASA’s Nuclear Systems Initiative: An Industry Perspective,” at the conference’s opening day luncheon on Nov. 19.

Additional speakers include Dr. Emma Bakes, a SETI Institute scientist, who will discuss “Computer Applications Advancing our Knowledge of Space: Parallels Between Nature and Technology” at the conference luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

The conference will feature several exhibits on display from conference participants. In an exhibit entitled “Tomorrow’s Technology Today,” NASA Ames will display its latest information technology, aerospace technology and astrobiology (the study of life in the universe) research.

Also featured at the conference will be panel discussions of several topics, including information technology, biotechnology, new technologies and innovative partnering.

The first panel session, entitled “Information Technology,” will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Topics to be discussed include “Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining,” “Distributed Agents and Operations,” “Mobile Agents Field Work,” “Science Autonomy for Planetary Rovers,” and “Revolutionary Computing Technologies for Deep Space Exploration.”

The second panel discussion, entitled “Biotechnology,” will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Topics to be discussed include “Introduction: Biology at NASA,” “Biosensing for Space Applications: An Overview,” “Astrobionics,” “Astrobiology and Nanotechnology,” “Nanopore Technologies,” and “Microfluidics Technologies for NASA.”

The third panel discussion, entitled “New Technologies,” will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Topics to be discussed include “Engineering with the Engines of Creation,” “Single Wall Carbon Nanotube Reinforced Polymer Nanocomposites for Space Applications,” and “Nanotechnology for the Next Generation of Deep Space Explorers.” Additional topics to be discussed at the third session include “Optical SETI,” “A New Search System for SETI,” and “The Allen Telescope Array: A Prototype for Cost-Effective Future Radio Telescopes.”

The fourth and final panel discussion, entitled “Innovative Partnering,” will be held on Thursday, Nov. 21, from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Topics to be discussed include “Government/Academia/Institutional Partnerships: An Overview,” “The NASA Research Park,” “Partnerships: Future Directions,” and “Partnership Perspectives: Discussion.”

NASA Ames Center Director G. Scott Hubbard is the honorary chairman of the conference, which is being held in cooperation with the SETI Institute. Established in 1954, the AAS is a professional, non-profit organization dedicated to the knowledge of, support for and interest in space activities through technical journals and publications, symposia, national conferences and education initiatives.

For additional conference information see:

SpaceRef staff editor.