I just wanted to take a minute to share that my son Henry is one year old today. This also marks the approximate anniversary of this blog, since one of my first posts was announcing his birth. Adjusting to life with a baby over the past year has been both a challenge and a joy. Like everyone says, being a parent really does enrich your life beyond description.
Little Henry is walking now, as you can see in the video clip below. His first word was "airplane," followed by "daddy," "bird," "dog," "dart," "mum mum" (more more), and "banana." He also communicates very well using a few signs and understands nearly 100 words thanks to this program. Some of his favorite activities include cycling with me, watching airplanes fly over our house, and eating rocks. Obviously, I try to discourage that last one. :)
President-elect Obama delivered a surprise speech today to the Governors' Global Climate Change Summit in California. This 2-day meeting arranged by Governator Schwarzenegger boasts over 600 delegates from more than 12 countries. In his speech, Obama emphasized the urgency of combating climate change and promised a "new chapter in American leadership on climate change." He pledged that the U.S. will participate in a global cap and trade system to reduce emissions to 1990 emission levels by 2020 and by an additional 80% by 2050. He also said he'd spend $15 billion per year to catalyze a clean energy private sector and create the so-called "green collar jobs" we've been hearing so much about during the election season. You can view the video below or from the change.gov website.
For those who missed it, a December 2007 ACTE interview with Duane Ross of the NASA Astronaut Selection Office (1975-present) reveals some interesting facets of NASA's current round of astronaut selection and the upcoming training for new ascans next year. The interview focuses somewhat on educator astronauts and how they are treated compared to other mission specialists. You can listen to the 16-minute audio podcast of the interview below or read the interview transcript PDF.
I'd like to highlight a really nice show airing now on the National Geographic Channel called Five Years on Mars. The program features stunning 3D renderings of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers throughout their adventures on the red planet. I really like the way the show portrays how the timeline for each rover's journey unfolded, including the different trials they faced and the inventive solutions the ground teams devised to overcome them. It's just amazing that the rovers are still going way past their 90-day shelf life.
I have received confirmation that my references received letters (and in at least one case also a phone call) from NASA regarding my astronaut application. This means I made it to the "Highly Qualified" round (top 450 applicants)! Below you can see the letter I received from NASA this week asking me to get a medical exam. Please keep your fingers crossed for me that I make it to the next interview stage.
During this nail-biting season of waiting among the astronaut hopefuls, I thought it would be informative to explore the process by which NASA rates its astronaut applicants. How does NASA go about ranking the applicants in order to determine the 3.9% who will be interviewed? I don't know the answer, but I did find the 1992 version of of NASA's Astronaut Applicant Rating Sheet on the Astronaut Hopefuls website. Here is Section I of the old rating sheet: