Almost 250 students from a dozen schools took part in a videoconference with NASA’s top person in keeping the universe connected, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator Badri Younes at the Mars Lab at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, on Monday 23 February.  Thirty-six of the students were in the studio why the remainder joined via videoconference

Also visiting the Mars Lab for the second time was the US Ambassador to Australia, John Berry.

The Mars Lab is a joint project between the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, the museum and the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney.

Mr Younes told the students that NASA was a ‘dream factory’ – a place where dreams could come true if you worked hard enough at school and college to get there. He had been a student in Lebanon at the time of the Apollo landings in 1969 and the early 1970s and today he leads the research into improving deep space communications.

Three of the ACA’s past students now work for NASA. One of them is on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team and another has just become the first Australian and first woman to lead an experiment for a Mars rover mission. Dr Abby Allwood’s experiment will be aboard the Mars rover 2020 mission. A fourth past ACA student works for the German space agency.

NASA Deputy Associate Administrator Badri Younes (left) with Director of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (of which the Powerhouse is a part) Rose Hiscock (centre) and US Ambassador to Australia John Berry (right).