Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NASA MSL Tweetup: Day 1

I recently has the pleasure of joining 150 other twitter users at the tweetup for the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory named Curiosity. A lot happened so I am going to do several blogs breaking it down day by day.

NASA has hosted quite a few tweetups (I believe this was the 31st). Tweetups are gatherings of NASA's twitter followers at a NASA center. Tweetups sometimes correspond to launches but have been held at other times as well. You always see a whole flurry to tweets from these events. The tweetup for the launch of Curiosity was held at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch. The launch was originally scheduled for November 25th which meant the tweetup would be on the 23rd, take the 24th off for Thanksgiving, and launch on the 25ht. A faulty battery pushed the launch to the 26th and the tweetup to the 25th. Therefore, when I arrived in Florida on the evening of the 22nd, I found myself with an extra free day. (Oh, there was a great dinner where all the tweeps met at Dixie Crossings on Tuesday night!)

The first thing I did was go to pick up my badge and swag. I knew they were giving us a free pass to the KSC Visitors Center that I planned to use Thursday, so I had to pick it up this morning. Met another tweep from Tucson at the hotel breakfast and drove over with her.

I spent the rest of the day exploring a couple of areas adjacent to the KSC. The Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge is immediately north of the KSC. This 140,000 acre refuge houses a wide variety of wildlife in marshlands and hammocks. Lots of great trails for hiking and observing wildlife. Note: bring bug repellant.

A path on Palm Hammock

Railraod tracks passing through the wildlife preserve used to bring rockets to the Cape.

A great drive is Bio Lab Road. Bio Lab Road actually goes through Canaveral National Seashore and comes out in the Wildlife Preserve. This road is a great place for birding.

I also went to the National Sea Shore. I only went to the southern part near KSC (it is huge). The beaches are wonderful, but you occasionally come across things like telescopes used to watch launches.

Fr0m the very southern end of the sea shore is the best place to get a view of launch pad 39B.39B was used for shuttle launches but is the first pad to be converted for the next generation of NASA rockets. The Ares 1-X test flight lifted off from 39B.

Tweetups are fun things. I went by myself but through twitter, managed to meet up with others throughout the day. I went to dinner that night with a bunch of tweeps at a local BBQ joint.

So you can see that even though there were not any formal tweetup activities that day, there was plenty to do! Stay tuned for day 2.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.


OrbsCorbs said...

Tweeps? I love it.

It's cool that you got invited to the in stuff at NASA, hale. It's also cool that there's a wildlife refuge nearby.

hale-bopp said...

Well, technically, the whole place is a wildlife preserve, including the Cape. They launch pads and buildings take up a very small amount of the land so the rest is technically a wildlife preserve. Merritt Island and the National Sea Shore are the parts (usually, except on launch days) open to the public.

There is a huge bald eagle's nest on site. It has been continuously occupied for over 50 years (by different eagles of course) and is estimated to weigh over 800 lbs now. You can see it from the road and the bus drivers always point it out on the tours. Guess every time a new family moves in they have to add a new room.

drewzepmeister said...

I would be in my glory to visit the wildlife refuge... I just can't get enough of nature.