The Mission Scientists, The Voices of Mission Control, and The Links You Need to Twitter and Facebook

 Copyright 2009 | About this blog


This page was originally created to support this Blog’s Special Post for live Web 2.0 coverage of MESSENGER’s flyby of Mercury on Sept 29, 2009. For continued coverage of the MESSENGER mission through orbital insertion on March 18, 2011, please visit the MESSENGER Updates page on this blog.



Quick Navigation for the BotU Special Post on the MESSENGER Flyby

Main Page

Other Sub-pages:

1. Schedule for MESSENGER Flyby Events and Web 2.0 Live Coverage

2. Ideas for Lessons in the Classroom, and Educational Resources

3. How to Participate—It’s Easy

4. Witness History: See Mercury Before Sunrise! Sept 29-Oct 1, 2009



On September 29, starting at 5:00 pm, about an hour before the Mercury encounter, seven MESSENGER Fellows and MESSENGER Education Team members will be covering the flyby live on Twitter and Facebook. Collectively this group will serve as Voices of Mission Control at the Applied Physics Lab. On September 30 and October 1 we will be working with four MESSENGER Mission Scientists, covering live the preliminary results from the data streaming to Earth.


Below are the bios for the dedicated folks bringing this historic event to students, teachers, and the public. The links you need to the Twitter and Facebook accounts for the Voices of Mission Control, as well as their email addresses, are also provided below.



MESSENGER Mission Scientists Participating

in the Live Web 2.0 Event


Dr. David Blewett (JHU/APL)

specializes in remote sensing and geological studies of the Moon and Mercury. He will use the detailed spectral information provided by the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) to define spectral parameters that can be mapped using images collected by the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS). He grew up in Butler, PA, received his BA in Astronomy & Astrophysics from the University of Pennsylvania, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from the University of Hawaii. He is a MESSENGER Participating Scientist and a member of the MESSENGER Geochemistry and Geology Groups. David once spent a field season as a member of an expedition to search for and collect meteorites in Antarctica.


ChabotDr. Nancy Chabot (JHU/APL)

is the Deputy Instrument Scientist for MDIS (Mercury Dual Imaging System). She is also an expert in the study of meteorites and has been been a member of five expeditions to search for and collect meteorites in Antarctica. Her research focuses on understanding the evolution of rocky planetary bodies in the Solar System. She grew up in Brea, CA, received her BA in Physics from Rice University, and her Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona. She is a member of the MESSENGER Geology Group.




Dr. David Lawrence (JHU/APL)

is an expert in gamma-ray and neutron spectroscopy and determining planetary compositions by remote sensing. Utilizing data from the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS), he will investigate Mercury’s composition and geology. He is the the Instrument Scientist for GRNS, a MESSENGER Participating Scientist, and a member of the MESSENGER Geochemistry Group.




Dr. Ronald Vervack (JHU/APL)

specializes in the study of planetary atmospheres using remote sensing data. He will participate in the planning and analysis of the observations of the exosphere as well as the modeling needed to understand Mercury’s complex exospheric system. He is a a MESSENGER Participating Scientist and a member of the MESSENGER Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group.




Voices of Mission Control—MESSENGER Fellows

dorrDr. Christina Dorr (Ohio)




Besides being privileged enough to be a MESSENGER Educator Fellow, I am in my 19th year as a media specialist, presently with Hilliard City School District, Hilliard, Ohio. In that capacity I get to teach a wide range of ages of children, a wide range of subject matters, including technology, research, literacy, and content areas. I serve on building and district committees and initiatives, and try to make as wide an impact on education as possible. My Ph.D. from the Ohio State University has allowed me several teaching opportunities at local universities part-time, and to become a speaker for the American Library Association. I keep active with local, state, and national organizations and write for their publications. Most recently I earned National Board Teacher Certification in November 2008. Spare time activities include reading, traveling, and spending time with my family. Columbus, Ohio, is home for me and my family.



gordonGene Gordon (New York)





I am a veteran teacher of 23 years. National Board certified in Physics, I have been teaching in Fairport NY for 13 years. I graduated (twice!) from Alfred University and have actively pursued my dream of sharing my life-long love for space and astronomy with any student or adult who would listen. Proud geek that I am, becoming a MESSENGER Fellow was a dream come true for me. Recently I was awarded the Excellence in Teaching award from the Science Teachers Association of New York State and was elected as the Director at Large for Physics to the Association. I live in Honeoye Falls NY.


iwamotoAnnette Iwamoto (California)



Annette teaches fourth and fifth grade at Searles Elementary School in Union City, California. In addition to her classroom assignment she serves as a Beginning Teacher Specialist mentoring and training first and second year teachers. Annette is a National Board Certified teacher and a past finalist for California Teacher of the Year.



jensenSally Jensen (New Hampshire)





I am currently teaching middle school students at Waterville Valley Academy, in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. There is a new pilot middle school program that will be starting this winter season, and I have the honor of being the director of this endeavor. I am also attending Plymouth State University, part time, to design a second masters in science and music. I consider myself a life time learner. I love space exploration and the universe. Everything and everyone has a connection with the various systems that function within our environment. We need to teach with that in mind. Earth is a very special planet in a very precise orbit, so neat stuff can all happen. It is really fun to keep learning.



taylorJulie Taylor (California)





Julie Taylor taught in the Adelanto School District in California for 37 years. She retired in 2007, but has continued to be a 2nd/3rd grade math tutor for four Adelanto schools and the NASA/science advisor for Columbia Middle School, a NASA Explorer School. She also serves the science educational community as an educational consultant for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, and for the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD. She is currently a MESSENGER Educator Fellow, Solar System Educator, and a Heliophysics Ambassador. She has amassed many awards over the years, including being selected as the Presidential Awardee for Elementary Science in 2001, becoming a National Board Certified Teacher in 2002,and receiving NSTA’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Middle School in 2007. She continues her work to provide the youth of the world with inspirational avenues to learn science.



Voices of Mission Control—MESSENGER E/PO Team Members


Dr. Jeff Goldstein (Dr. Jeff to my friends)

Twitter: http//



Jeff Goldstein is Center Director for the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education. He is responsible for the creation and delivery of national initiatives addressing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, with a focus on earth and space. Jeff is also the Director for the Center’s education and public outreach programs in support of the NASA MESSENGER mission. Jeff’s planetary science research includes the development of techniques for the measurement of global winds on other planets using large telescopes on Earth. He developed computer models for the circulation of planetary atmospheres (models of global winds), built ultra-stable CO2 laser systems for infrared heterodyne spectrometers, and has measured the global winds of Mars and Venus. Jeff received his BA in physics from CUNY, and his MA and Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophyics from the University of Pennsylvania.




Dr. Harri Vanhala


Harri will be serving as the liaison between the participating scientists and the Voices of Mission Control so the two teams coordinate on addressing questions coming in from Twitter and Facebook, and that we coordinate on both science content and reporting.

Harri Vanhala is a science researcher at the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education in Capitol Heights, MD. Originally from Finland, where he received his Ph.D. degree in astronomy from the University of Oulu, he has worked in various research and education organizations in the Unites States for the past 16 years. His research concentrates on using computer simulations to investigate the origin of the Solar System, as well as constructing computer programs to investigate the properties of present-day planets. His educational experience ranges from visiting classrooms to giving public presentations, conducting teacher training workshops, and teaching college courses. He also manages the MESSENGER Educator Fellowship Program, a nationwide professional development initiative for educators in support of the MESSENGER mission to Mercury.



The Voice of the MESSENGER Spacecraft

Did you know THE MESSENGER spacecraft has been twittering its whereabouts, and its inner feelings back to Earth? One member of the MESSENGER Education Team has been faithfully channeling MESSENGER’s thoughts for quite some time. You can eavesdrop on the spacecraft at:

Note though that the spacecraft is unable to reply to a tweet since we want it to concentrate on its mission.





Heather Weir is a Senior Science Education Specialist at Science Systems and Applications, Inc. working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, MD.  As part of her responsibilities, Heather conducts teacher professional development workshops, gives presentations to the public, and works with visiting school groups.  Besides working on the MESSENGER Mission, she is an active member of the Aura, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and New Horizons education and public outreach teams.  Heather also manages the New Horizons Fellows. She grew up in northern New Jersey, received her BA and MS in Physics from George Mason University, and is working on her second Master’s degree in Science Education at University of Maryland, College Park.


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2 Responses to “The Mission Scientists, The Voices of Mission Control, and The Links You Need to Twitter and Facebook”

  1. ron metzner Says:
    September 22nd, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Our school district blocks facebook, twitter, and YouTube so that the students do not do their social networking on school computers instead of the assigned projects. Since we are probably not unique in the USA for being in this situation what other form of streaming have you arranged so that schools can participate?

  2. DrJeff Says:
    September 23rd, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    HI Ron-
    I followed up with you on this by phone but thought I’d post the Q&A for the benefit of others. We are providing other ways to connect, but there is no guarantee they will work with the network in a given school district. But we urge everyone to try what we’ve put in place! For directions, go here:

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