Astronauts and Space Scientists Invade NYC for 2014 World Science Festival

Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge stands starkly against a sea of stars. The sky photo was captured in Black Rock Desert, Nevada. (Image credit: Thierry Cohen and Danziger Gallery)

NEW YORK - NASA astronauts are taking over New York City this week for the World Science Festival.

Space agency scientists and engineers are giving presentations around New York from now until Sunday (June 1) on a variety of topics. Some astronauts will discuss their work and what it's like to fly in space, while others will help New Yorkers look up at the stars from the Brooklyn waterfront.

If you don't happen to be in the city this week, the World Science Festival will also have some events streaming live online that anyone can watch for free. For a full list of streaming events, including links to the webcasts themselves, head over to's sister site Live Science, to watch the World Science Festival broadcasts.

Here is's guide to NASA-centric and other space-y events at the World Science Festival this week. (Check the WSF website for more details and location information for each of the events):

See a Comet in Brooklyn - Thursday (May 29) to Sunday (June 1)
From WSF: "This summer, a spacecraft named “Rosetta” will rendezvous with the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, having traveled 3.7 billion miles. “Rosetta,” launched in 2004, will attempt a first-ever landing on the comet in November. Join the World Science Festival in Brooklyn Bridge Park to see a dynamic installation of a scale replica of the comet." NASA scientists and educators from the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be on hand to discuss the comet and mission. [See images of the Rosetta comet mission]

Pioneers in Science: Martin Rees – Thursday (May 29) from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT
From WSF: "Great minds inspire greatness in others, which is why the Pioneers in Science program gives high school students from around the globe rare access to some of the world’s most renowned scientists. This year, students will engage with British astrophysicist, Lord Martin Rees. Now the prestigious Astronomer Royal, Rees has worked on everything from black holes and quasars to quantum physics and the Big Bang. During this intimate gathering, he’ll share his personal stories, life challenges, and career highlights, all toward inspiring the next generation of scientists and explorers."

All Hands On Deck: Science, Space And Astronomy Night At The Intrepid Museum – Thursday (May 29) from 7:30 p.m. EDT to 11:00 p.m. EDT
From WSF: "Join the World Science Festival and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for a first of its kind evening that includes a special screening of “Gravity,” under the space shuttle Enterprise, conversations with astronauts, stargazing, a search for exoplanets, after-hours access to the Exploreum Interactive Hall, and more." NASA astronauts John Grunsfeld and Sandra Magnus will take part in the event. Richard Garriott, a space tourist that flew to the International Space Station for about two weeks, will also be in attendance. Former NASA engineer Mark Weislogel, astrophysicist Mario Livio, planetarium professional Ted Williams, NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi and astrobiologist Paul Davies round out the list.

Galactic Classroom: Science Aboard the International Space Station – Friday (May 30) from 9:30 a.m. EDT to 10:30 a.m. EDT
From WSF: "In space, water becomes a spherical ball, hovering in the air. Plants grow sideways. Humans lose muscle mass. Without earth’s gravity things behave…well, differently. Such is life—and science—aboard the International Space Station, where the extremes of microgravity make possible a whole new class of cutting-edge experiments ranging from fluid dynamics (try drinking a cup of coffee that won’t stay in the cup) to vaccines, and research about the origin of the life to predicting natural disasters. ISS scientists join middle school students from across the country in a virtual classroom that brings research at 240 miles above earth’s surface right down to earth." NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus, NASA engineer Mark Weislogel and NASA scientist Tara Ruttley will participate in the event.

Pioneers in Science: John Grunsfeld – Friday (May 30) from 11:30 a.m. EDT to 12:30 p.m. EDT
From WSF: "Great minds inspire greatness in others, which is why the Pioneers in Science program gives high school students from around the globe rare access to some of the world’s most renowned scientists. This year, students will engage with NASA astronaut John Grunsfeld, veteran of five space shuttle flights and multiple spacewalks. Grunsfeld helped repair the Hubble Space Telescope and until recently managed the science program for the James Webb Space Telescope. During this intimate gathering, he’ll share his personal stories, life challenges, and career highlights, all toward inspiring the next generation of scientists and explorers."

Ripples from the Big Bang: Listening to the Beginning of Time – Friday (May 30) from 8 p.m. EDT to 9:30 p.m. EDT
From WSF: "In March, a major breakthrough in understanding the origin of universe took the scientific community–and the general public–by storm. A team lead by astronomer John Kovac, using a powerful telescope at the South Pole, reported evidence of ripples in the fabric of space time produced by the big bang, a long-sought prediction of our most refined approach to cosmology, the inflationary theory. Amidst the worldwide celebration, though, some have been quietly suggesting that the champagne has been uncorked prematurely. Join a singular conversation, among the world’s most respected pioneers in cosmological theory and observation, that will explore the state of the art in the ongoing quest to understand the beginning of the universe." Scientists Andrei Linde, Alan Guth, Amber Miller, John Kovac and Paul Steinhardt will participate in the panel moderated by Brian Greene. [Cosmic Inflation and Gravitational Waves: Complete Coverage]

The Search for Life: The 20 Year Horizon – Saturday (May 31) from 4 p.m. EDT to 5:30 p.m. EDT
From WSF: "An interdisciplinary study has grown out of the search for the origins of life, and collaborative plans for the next twenty years of this hunt are underway. Our panel will discuss the potential of three high-tech pieces of equipment: Starshade, a flower-shaped shield to block excess light and reveal distant Earth size planets; TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite that will measure the brightness of roughly 500,000 stars; and the famed James Webb Space Telescope, infrared successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The technology will advance the research in many areas of the research. In labs, what do chemists hope to cook up in the next twenty years? Thinking about the future has biologists, astronomers, and physicists alike working collaboratively to be ready for what’s on the horizon." Participants include astronomer Dimitar Sasselov, exoplanet hunter Sara Seager and biologist Jack Szostak in a panel moderated by Mario Livio.

Alien Life: Will We Know it When We See it? – Saturday (May 31) from 8 p.m. EDT to 9:30 p.m. EDT
From WSF: Are we alone in the universe? Scientists haven’t found aliens yet, but by scanning the sky they’ve shown that our galaxy harbors billions of planets, many of which likely have conditions similar to those on Earth. Which brings new questions into sharp relief: When searching for life beyond our home planet, how do we know what to look for? What human prejudices might cause us to overlook intelligent life forms very different from what we expect? Learn how scientists across disciplines—astronomers, chemists and microbiologists—are intensely studying the evolution of life on Earth to help identify life abroad, a research agenda with wide-reaching ramifications for science, philosophy, religion, and much more. Jack W. Szostak, Paul Davies, Sara Seager and Dimitar Sasselov will also participate in this panel. [10 Exoplanets That Could Host Alien Life]

The Night Sky from Brooklyn Bridge Park – Saturday (May 31) from 7 p.m. EDT to 11 p.m. EDT
From WSF: "Get out your telescope (or come borrow one of ours) for a night of urban stargazing and live music as we celebrate the dance of the planets. Learn even more about the universe at our Star Chat, where some of the world’s best astronomers, physicists, and scientists will discuss hunting for life, landing crafts on Mars, and discovering planets trillions and trillions of miles away. Gear up for the Rosetta Mission that is slated to land on a comet later this year by visiting our model comet with interactive programming. Finally, get a taste of what it’s like to be an exoplanet hunter with NASA’s interactive game, The Hidden Light, and enjoy finding your favorite constellations without ever leaving the city." NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi, NASA scientist Steve Howell, Mario Livio and Christina Pease will take part in the event.

For more details about the 2014 World Science Festival, visit:

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Miriam Kramer
Staff Writer

Miriam Kramer joined as a Staff Writer in December 2012. Since then, she has floated in weightlessness on a zero-gravity flight, felt the pull of 4-Gs in a trainer aircraft and watched rockets soar into space from Florida and Virginia. She also served as's lead space entertainment reporter, and enjoys all aspects of space news, astronomy and commercial spaceflight.  Miriam has also presented space stories during live interviews with Fox News and other TV and radio outlets. She originally hails from Knoxville, Tennessee where she and her family would take trips to dark spots on the outskirts of town to watch meteor showers every year. She loves to travel and one day hopes to see the northern lights in person. Miriam is currently a space reporter with Axios, writing the Axios Space newsletter. You can follow Miriam on Twitter.