Monday, October 11, 2010

San Francisco Fleet Week - Defying Gravity

After my 3 week visit at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, I was looking forward to returning back to the Bay Area. I knew I would have a fun and amazing weekend ahead of me...

On Friday I was part of the gala event for the "NAVY IN SPACE" exhibit at Fort Mason. This was a "jacket & tie" kind of event and so I got my beautiful black dress out. The tiara on my head looked great and my black wheels were stunning.

Astronaut John Herrington and I. We look stunning!
During the gala I had the opportunity to introduce Little SDO and the science behind our mission. My team and I were showing some of the amazing images of the Sun, explained why we want to study the Sun in more detail and answered many questions. We had a wonderful time.

The NAVY in Space exhibit is part of the San Francisco Fleet Week. Inside the exhibit there are some amazing American and Russian space artifacts, many hands-on experiences and some of the most amazing pictures present. The great John Herrington (Astronaut on STS-113) was there meeting kids and adults and telling everyone his experiences. I will share some more stories about John a little later.

My team took the opportunity to share a lot of information about not only Little SDO, but about solar physics and space weather. We had several hands on activities and even brought out our "big sun", which is a huge weather balloon with sunspots hand painted on. We use it to illustrate the size of the Sun and give people a scale comparison between Earth, the Sun and other planets in our solar system. We also talked about the colors of the Sun, why SDO uses a variety of filters/wavelengths to study what is happening. Another station had solar beads and we demonstrated how UV light effects these beads and how suns screen protection works. And of course we also showed almost real-time images from the Sun, via Little SDO. It was a great success and we met a lot of wonderful people, including these two girls from South America!

Every afternoon there is a beautiful airshow over the San Francisco Bay. The highlight is always the amazing Blue Angels in their F/A-18s. It starts off with Fat Albert (the C-130T Hercules) doing a few fly-bys. Just beautiful - and then the blue and yellow fighter jets come into the picture, flying perfectly choreographed formations. These pilots are some of the top the NAVY has to offer and the way they handle their aircraft is a real treat to watch.

 Before I write more, here are some pictures for you to enjoy! And yes, I did take these pictures. Actually, I directed the shots. See, with my chicken wings, it's hard to reach that button. So I am directing all the shots!

Beautiful vapor cone forming at this FA-18

Blackhawk Helicopter over Alcatraz

Boeing 747

Fat Albert Airlines - C-130 Hercules 

The Blue Angels - F/A-18

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