NASA MAVEN, meet Tyra; Tyra, tweet MAVEN away
By Jenn Tyborski
Roosevelt University may not offer a space program, but that doesn’t stop its faculty from exploring infinite space.
Tyra Robertson, director of instructional technology, was recently selected to cover the launch of MAVEN, or Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution.
“I flipped out,” Robertson said when she found out she was selected to live tweet the event. “I’m not the kind of person who’s like, ‘Oh, look at the cool stuff I can do,’ but it just seemed like there was no way that was real, because I’m sort of a late bloomer in life and had a very rough time coming up — even through early adulthood. So these kind of awesome things to be happening to me was like, ‘What!’”
According to NASA’s website, the mission will take place Nov. 18, and it “will explore the upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind.”
This isn’t the first event Robertson has covered for NASA, however. In March, Robertson attended the resupply mission to the International Space Station. Robertson heard about the event through NASA’s Twitter account.
Twitter also opened the door for Robertson to write professionally for SpaceX’s blog. In response to one of her posts, Robertson was contacted by a man connected with Pinehead.tv, a company that works to share “the depth and breadth” of their experience “in the world of technology,” according to the company’s website.
Robertson now contributes periodically to the blog on matters of space technology.
Where did this great interest in space come from? Robertson credited her childhood.
“As a kid growing up in Texas … NASA is really kind of in your backyard if you live in that part of Texas,” Robertson said. “The opportunity to be on site … seemed like a really cool opportunity to see a SpaceX launch after geeking out for so long.”
Robertson also stated that her interest in space stemmed from her curiosity, as well as her interest in massive fire power.
“I’m just an incredibly curious person, so I think there’s so much [beyond] our ball-of-dirt Earth, and so I’m pretty curious about that,” Robertson said. “And there’s things that people don’t realize [about] space research that benefits life on Earth.”
According to Robertson, a lot of research is done at the ISS by private companies. For example, pharmaceutical companies test their products in space. Another company, Sherwin Williams, was a part of the resupply mission Robertson attended in March. Apparently, the company was testing how paint peels in zero gravity.
“We can learn so much about what’s significant about life on Earth on things outside of the Earth’s atmosphere,” she said.
For the MAVEN launch, Robertson said she will be tweeting about the launch itself, as well as tweeting questions she has for the NASA representatives.
“One of the questions I’ll be asking is why did we go satellite second, or like orbiting spacecraft rather than rovers first,” Robertson said. “You can cover so much more territory with how advanced cameras are now — you can really zoom in and see a lot. So I see the value in being on the ground, but I’m curious why we’re not studying this.”
Another question Robertson will be asking at the press conference for the media pertains to the government shutdown.
“One thing I really love about going to [a] NASA social is that it’s extremely socially acceptable to be on your phone,” Robertson said. “People are talking to you, and everyone is on their phone because we’re listening for stuff to tweet, [and] we’re posting photos.”
Robertson landed in Florida last Friday, where she met with a group of other social media reporters selected for the MAVEN launch coverage. Because each reporter must cover at their own expenses, Robertson said part of the preparation was organizing traveling arrangements with others.
But before she even left for Florida, Robertson had to take in consideration her goals for the trip to figure out what equipment to take with her.
“We’re as close as you can get as civilians on NASA property to the launch, but you’re still three miles away,” Robertson explained. “Last time I covered the whole thing was just on my phone, so I did a Vine of it taking off, and I thought, ‘Oh, this isn’t that cool.’ We’re really spoiled — you can watch in real time the camera on the rocket leave the earth, so what is my Vine, my Instagram video going to do?” Robertson stated.
If given the chance, Robertson said she would travel to outer space.
“I would definitely be down to go to the International Space Station, but I don’t know if [it would be] something long-term … like a mission to Mars,” she said. “[You’re] so cramped in those spaceships — I just can’t. But definitely the space station, for sure.”
Audio of Robertson’s interview can be found at rutorch.com.
Audio of full interview (if you want to use it online):
LINKS FOR WEBSITE FOR PEEPS TO CHECK OUT!!! 😀
Main page for MAVEN
NASA Socials info page
MAVEN to explore upper atmosphere of Mars