Exploring Space with NASA
3rd February 2016

Organisers of this year’s National Science Festival, Scifest Africa, have confirmed that visitors will again have the unique opportunity to interact with artists and scientist from NASA.

The festival, sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, will take place in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape from 2-8 March and will celebrate the theme “A matter of time”. 

Visitors can travel back in time with Chief Technologist, Jim Adams, to learn about space technologies developed over the last 40 years that benefit life on Earth, or travel to the future to look at the architecture being developed by NASA that will allow humans to live on Mars in the 2030s. Adams is responsible for implementing technology strategies across the US space agency, leading NASA’s technology transfer and partnership efforts to enable NASA’s cutting edge missions, outstanding science and new discoveries. Adams is a member of the Scifest Africa Advisory Committee and has received a number of honours and awards, including NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal, Exceptional Service Medal and Outstanding Leadership Medal.

NASA Visual Strategist, Dan Goods, takes data collected by NASA and uses various media to make this information accessible and comprehensible to the public. Goods will project manage two art installations at the festival, namely “Beneath the Surface”, which uses a large cloud, infrared light and the visitor’s mobile telephone camera to demonstrate how NASA’s Juno mission uses special detectors to peer through the clouds of Jupiter and reveal the depths of its lightning storms, and “Hidden Light”, which uses two projectors and the visitor’s shadow to explore the complex nature of deep-space research.  

Goods is also head of a creative group, The Exoplanet Travel Bureau, based at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California which uses the concept of a travel bureau and travel posters to communicate the data collected by NASA about exoplanets. Visitors to the festival can join Goods for an interactive workshop to learn more about the methods used by NASA to find these exoplanets, NASA’s past, current and planned Missions, what we know about the exoplanets discovered, and the development of the New World Atlas.

Scifest Africa will collaborate with NASA to present a photographic exhibition titled “Africa as Art”. This exhibition, inspired by the original NASA “Earth as Art” exhibition, features photographic images of Africa taken by NASA satellites and astronauts on the International Space Station. The exhibition will be on show outside Olive Schreiner Hall at the 1820 Settler’s Monument, Fort Selwyn Drive, Grahamstown from 2-8 March.

NASA will also support the attendance of representatives from the United States National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), assisted by students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in order to present robotics workshops at the festival. These workshops will explore the communication challenges faced by NASA on the journey to Mars, and encourages visitors to find solutions that may help NASA through activities using LittleBits electronic kits.

Lookout for the electronic programme available at www.scifest.org.za and www.tickethut.co.za. Bookings are open on 0860 002 004 or www.tickethut.co.za.

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