Press Release

NASA Invites Media to 55th Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium

By SpaceRef Editor
March 3, 2017
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Media are invited to meet the leaders in the science and engineering world at the 55th Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium at the Greenbelt Marriott, 6400 Ivy Lane, Greenbelt, Maryland, on March 8-9, 2017.

This year’s theme, “Future Space: Trends, Technologies and Missions,” will emphasize NASA’s projects and programs in the coming years. Supported by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and sponsored by the American Astronautical Society, this symposium brings together leaders in science, engineering and technology to discuss many of the common and unique challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

“The annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium is a key meeting for all those involved in aerospace, science and space policy,” said Harley Thronson, chairman of the symposium’s planning committee at Goddard. “The theme of the 55th symposium is how government and private sector leadership in space exploration will take advantage of opportunities in the coming decade.”

During opening remarks, which begin on Wednesday at 8:40 a.m. EST, Dr. Matt Mountain, President of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), will emphasize the remarkable success of NASA’s combined human and robotic space exploration.

The opening activities will also feature a video tribute to four remarkable NASA Goddard employees who passed away recently:

Martin Davis, deputy associate director for Earth Science Operational Projects
Neil Gehrels, chief of the Goddard Astroparticle Physics Laboratory and project scientist for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
Phil Sabelhaus, associate director of flight projects for the James Webb Space Telescope
Piers Sellers, director of the Earth Sciences Division
Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot will present the keynote address beginning at 9:10 a.m.

Among the highlights on Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. will be a panel discussion on “International Exploration and Private Sector Development of Space” moderated by Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations, NASA Headquarters.

At 4 p.m., “The Political Environment” will be moderated by Marcia Smith, founder and editor, Panelists will include Frank Morring, senior editor, Aviation Week & Space Technology; Chris Shank, special assistant, Office of the Secretary of Defense; Nick Cummings, staff director, Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; Tom Hammond, staff director, Subcommittee on Space, House, Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Thursday highlights include a panel discussion at 9:05 a.m. on “Upcoming Missions with Big Science Payoffs” with moderator Colleen Hartman, director, Sciences and Explorations Directorate, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Panelist include David Spergel, Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST); Charles Young, professor of astronomy, Princeton University; Mars 2020 Rover: Ken Farley, W.M. Keck Foundation professor of geochemistry and chair, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, Caltech; Jeremy Werdell, project scientist, Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE); Elsayed Talaat, NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate, Heliophysics Division chief scientist.

Also on Thursday beginning at 2 p.m. will be two spotlight talks, including “Space-based Environmental Intelligence” with “In Memoriam” — a 2016 video clip of a talk with Piers Sellers and Leonardo DiCaprio from “Before the Flood.”

“China’s Plans for Space” spotlight talk will be presented by Brian Weeden, technical adviser, Secure World Foundation.

Thursday’s closing remarks will include Chris Scolese, center director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; John Grunsfeld, astronaut and former NASA administrator for science; Jon Malay, past president of the American Astronautical Society and American Meteorological Society; and Sam Scimemi, director of the International Space Station.

Media interested in arranging interviews with NASA speakers should contact Cynthia O’Carroll no later than March 6 at 301-286-4787 or [email protected]

For details on the symposium, please visit:

For more information about NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, visit:

CONTACT: Cynthia M. O’Carroll, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., 301-286-4787, [email protected]

SpaceRef staff editor.