Jim Green is NASA’s Division Director for Planetary Science. He talked at length about current and future Mars missions. // All photos: Michael E. Bakich
Who knew that our government space agency was so beloved in the ranks of geekdom? Well, now lots of people do. On Thursday, July 24, NASA presented its first panel ever at San Diego Comic-Con.
Dr. Jim Green, the agency’s division director for planetary science, astronaut Mike Fincke, and the “Mohawk Guy,” Bobak Ferdowski (who actually works on projects like the Curiosity and Europa missions) appeared in a panel called “NASA’s Next Giant Leap,” where they discussed plans for future missions.
Cool, but wait. It gets better. The moderator was actor and director Seth Green, who demonstrated an intense zeal for space. (Perhaps that’s something that goes with being an actor named Seth?)
Astronaut Mike Fincke has spent more than 380 days in space, including an amazing 48 hours on spacewalks. He shared some insights about staffed missions beyond low Earth orbit.
And if that weren’t enough, there was one more guest: Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin! That’s right, the second man to walk on the Moon went to Comic-Con.
The room they were in, 6A, held more than 1,000 people. And it was packed. I know that not because I was in there, but rather because I observed the line of about a thousand more folks who, like me, didn’t line up several hours before the panel started. And although a bit disappointed, everyone I talked to was still excited that “NASA was here.”
Bobak Ferdowski is a lot more than NASA’s “Mohawk Guy.” His work includes the Curiosity mission to Mars and the hoped-for mission to Europa, which probably will launch in the mid-2020s.
But my NASA experience was a bit more expansive than chatting with attendees dispersing from the entrance to a full room. The day before, NASA Public Affairs Officer Trent Perotto emailed me and invited me to a press conference with Green, Fincke, and Ferdowski. It was an intimate conversation with only 20 or so press there. I took videos of questions and answers, and I’ll post them when I get back in the office.
More to come.