10 March 2010
As part of the Celebration of 50 years of Australia-USA Space Collaboration, NASA's Dr William H Gerstenmaier recently visited the School of Physics at The University of Sydney. In a presentation on the Human Flight Space Program he spoke about the impact of space on the human body as well as NASA's redefined missions to the Moon and Mars under the present Obama administration.
Dr Gerstenmaier heads NASA's human exploration of space program and has programmatic oversight for the international space station, space shuttle, space communications and space launch vehicles.
He is keen to promote international collaboration on the issues arising from long-term residences in space. Focussing on the astronauts in the International Space Station he told how NASA is setting challenges to scientists worldwide to help find solutions to problems such as the loss of bone density in returning astronauts after extended periods in space.
Attending the special NASA presentation, which was organised by Professor Iver Cairns, Head of the Space Physics group and Director of the Centre for Waves and Complex Systems, were students and staff from the University of Sydney and other universities as well as space experts and enthusiasts from across the Sydney basin. Motivated by their own interests from space physics and engineering to medical physics to planetary science, astronomy, and astrobiology, the audience greatly impressed Dr Gerstenmaier with their questions during the extended 45-minute Q&A period.
The talk was organised by the School of Physics and the National Committee for Space Science following an invitation from the Australian Government's new Space Policy Unit. The Unit administers the new $40million Australian Space Research Program.
With the inspirational photos of Earth taken from the International Space Station on screen and the knowledge that astronauts now had access to the Internet (and were using EBay!) there could well be an influx of applications from young Australian scientists to be the next generation of NASA astronauts.Download AVI file here.