It has a history and habit of outreach to young people in Austria and beyond!
They told me some of the plans for the following day included setting up a telescope with a solar filter in the Old Town near the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) for the morning and a city park for the afternoon. The goal was to give young people....or any people really, a glance at the sun and to talk to them about the sun and space! How COOL!
Some of the OeWF's recent projects include:
- PolAres field simulations - In February 2013, the team went to Morocco to do testing in high temperatures and arid environment. They conducted an analogue Mars field simulation to prepare for future Mars missions.
- Stratospheric balloon tests
- Aouda - Aouda.X Analog spacesuit prototype for planetary surface exploration
- Phileas - a rover built for robotic work and in cooperation with astronauts
When I arrived, the president of the board of the OeWF, Dr. Gernot Grömer, and Olivia Haider greeted me. We went upstairs to Dr. Grömer's office to chat for a bit. He is charming, brilliant, funny, and very hospitable. We talked about how the ideas of space exploration, and in particular, Mars exploration, are becoming more widely accepted in places like Austria and how the forum is expanding its outreach and media efforts across all ages. He mentioned that now, instead of saying IF we go to Mars, more people are saying WHEN we go. That is a giant leap of progress!
|Dr. Gernot Grőmer, President of the Board of the OeWF in his office w/ a lovely Alpine setting|
It was very special that I got to play with the rover. My goal was to move it across the floor and pick up a candy bar.....which just happened to be a Mars bar :-)
|Proof that I did picked it up off the ground :-)|
I was able to touch it and ask questions about the suit. Analogue means that it is the practice /ground version of the suits the astronauts wear and not the real one. Nor is it always hooked up to working cameras, air systems, etc.
Inside was a rather low-tech piece of blue pillowed cloth and I wondered what it was for.
Dr. Grömer told me that when you begin to sweat in the suit, your nose begins to itch. The stripe of pillow cloth is actually for you to scratch your nose! I also got to see some of the garments worn by astronauts. In particular, an inner layer for underwear, has a unique cooling cloth which was very interesting.
We talked a little about upcoming projects including an event for World Space Week where the OeWF Innsbruck office and lab will be the hub of activity for Austrian space events. THIS IS SUPER EXCITING!!!! They will include live feeds interacting with the OeWF for a number of events.
|Mars meteorite at the OeWF|
Follow them on Twitter!!! @OEWF and @halidax