A group of fans recently filled baseball's Fenway Park in Boston — not to watch homers fly over the Green Monster left-field wall, but to talk about spacecraft flying through the solar system.
On May 30, NASA held a public-engagement event for 4,000 students at the home of the Boston Red Sox. Scientists discussed the science of several missions — the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the upcoming Orion spacecraft for crewed missions to the moon, Mars and other solar system destinations, to name a few.
"Fenway Park became the command center for a unique NASA mission — a showcase about the wonders of our universe and the many ways NASA scientists study it," narrator Jerome Hruska said in a NASA video about the event.
"The concourse was transformed into a science center, featuring exhibits, hands-on activities and demonstrations," with discussions on topics ranging from exoplanets to meteorites, he added in the video, which NASA posted earlier this month.
The lead scientist for this endeavor was LRO project scientist Noah Petro, and several other scientists from other NASA centers participated. But the featured speaker was someone who has explored space personally: NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, commander of the International Space Station's Expedition 33 and the first astronaut to run the Boston Marathon in space (which she accomplished on a treadmill). She also is participating in Orion spacecraft development.
Even after the event concluded, NASA hung on to its field seats for a few more minutes. Maria Banks — a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and a professional harpist — played the national anthem before the Red Sox game that day. The home team beat the visiting Toronto Blue Jays 6 to 4.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace