FCW Insider


NASA moves to protect lunar history

As NASA moves on to the technology of the future, it's also working to protect the technology of the past. The space agency has issued a set of guidelines for preserving historical sites on the moon.

The guidelines come as the X Prize Foundation is judging 26 teams trying to become the first privately funded team to visit the moon. The teams have submitted mobility plans as part of a context for the Google Lunar X Prize. At stake is a total of $30 million in prizes. The first prize will go a team that “builds a rover which lands successfully land on the moon, explores it by moving at least one third of a mile and returns high-definition video and imagery to Earth,” according to NASA.

But there are already lunar rovers on the moon, left there by the Apollo missions. There are also parts of lunar landing craft and other relics of human lunar exploration in the 1960s and '70s. NASA's guidelines are not mandatory, but they seek to ensure no damage comes to the equipment as new visitors explore the moon.

“NASA assembled the guidelines using data from previous lunar studies and analysis of the unmanned lander Surveyor 3's samples after Apollo 12 landed nearby in 1969. Experts from the historic, scientific and flight-planning communities also contributed to the technical recommendations,” wrote NASA officials in a statement.

The guidance document itself reads: “Since the completion of the Apollo lunar surface missions in 1972, no missions have returned to visit these historic sites, leaving them in pristine condition and undisturbed by artificial processes (the sites have changed due to normal space weathering). It is anticipated that future spacecraft will have the technology and their operators will have the interest to visit these sites in the coming years. These visits could impose significant disturbance risks to these sites, thus potentially destroying irreplaceable historic, scientific and educational artifacts and materials.”

For the full guidelines document, click here.

Posted by Michael Hardy on May 25, 2012 at 12:18 PM1 comments


NOAA makes magic solicitation disappear

The General Services Administration's conference spending scandal prompted FCW columnist and blogger Steve Kelman to wonder if the inevitable renewed scrutiny would lead to a clamping down on any kind of creativity in agency spending.

It could be happening already. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has withdrawn a solicitation for a motivational speaker who incorporates magic in his or her presentation.

As described by Charles S. Clark in GovExec, the solicitation asked for a speaker who has “created a unique model of translating magic and principles of the psychology of magic, magic tools, techniques and experiences into a method of teaching leadership.” The speaker was being sought for an upcoming event involving 45 employees.

NOAA issued the solicitation on May 1 and withdrew it two days later, Clark reported.

What do you think about the decision? On the one hand, entertaining presentations can keep the attention of the audience and perhaps leave a longer lasting impression. On the other hand, if a stage magician with a motivational speech costs more than another, more prosaic speaker, it might be “taxpayer abuse, pure and simple,” as Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) described NOAA's idea.

Posted by Michael Hardy on May 04, 2012 at 12:18 PM6 comments


Grimm things happening at DOT

Anyone who pays attention to pop culture knows that fairy tales are enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

At least two popular TV series – NBC’s “Grimm” and ABC’s “Once Upon A Time” – use classic tales as the basis for their stories. (“Grimm” is, of course, a reference to the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, who published versions of fairy tales in 19th-century Germany that remain popular to this day.)

On the big screen, “Snow White and the Huntsman” is set for a June release, “Jack the Giant Killer” comes out next year, and “Red Riding Hood” enjoyed modest success in 2011.

Now the Transportation Department has gotten in on the act, with a public service announcement about the importance of calling 811 for information on underground pipes and cables before digging called “Avoid a Grimm Situation.”

The video takes place in the land called “Fairy Tale Acres,” where the burly working men of Seven Guys Landscaping unload shovels, picks and a powered auger as they prepare to dig.

To read an entry in DOT’s “Fast Lane” blog, click here.

Posted by Michael Hardy on May 02, 2012 at 12:18 PM0 comments