Space Invaders: NASA Conference hits U of M – Nov. 18-21- Missoula

Ever want to meet an astronaut, study microgravity or learn how outer space research benefits life on Earth? All this and more will be possible when The University of Montana hosts a NASA Educational and Public Outreach Annual Training Retreat Monday through Thursday, Nov. 18-21.

The conference, "Leading Great Research in Space," will be presented by NASA’s Office of Biological and Physical Research, which conducts research to support human space exploration. OBPR uses space as a laboratory for scientific, technological and commercial research, and it oversees experiments at the International Space Station.

Many parts of the conference are open to the public, including a general dialogue session from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday in the third-floor University Center Theater. Members of the local media such as Mike McInally, Sally Mauk, Greg Scheiferstein and Troy Savage will join NASA representatives to discuss perceptions of NASA and how OBPR can more effectively communicate its research and goals to the public.

On Tuesday NASA will host a community night from 7 to 9 p.m. in rooms 204, 205 and 210 of the Todd Building, which is attached to the east side of the University Center. The open house will offer NASA representatives, exhibits and more. The public will learn how keeping astronauts fit can help medical researchers fight disease, how microgravity research might lead to cleaner combustion in homes and cars, how new materials and products result from space research, and how weightless research helps us learn about adaptation and evolution.

Another educational outreach program with exhibits and demonstrations will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday in both the University Center Theater and Todd Building. The night will feature a "virtual astronaut" 3-D interactive Web site and a "Picture Yourself in Space" photo booth.

In addition, the Glen Research Center will provide their Mobile Aeronautics Education Laboratory Monday through Thursday for K-12 students and educators. MAEL is a state-of-the-art classroom that allows students to experiment with microgravity and aeronautics.

For more information about the conference, contact Amy Fisher at (406) 243-2288.

Note: NASA scientists will be setting up displays Sunday, Nov. 17, and may be available for interviews that day. In addition, the mobile aeronautics lab will be sitting outside the Todd Building by Sunday afternoon.

Contact: George Bailey, UM assistant to the vice president for research, (406) 243-5459; John Emond, NASA headquarters, (202) 358-1686; Bonnie McClain, NASA headquarters, (202) 358-2181.

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