Past Event

An Astronaut's View of Planet Earth: Why Innovation Matters

December 8, 2020
8:30 PM - 9:30 PM
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The Urban Works Innovation Challenge 2020-2021 calls upon prospective applicants to an online presentation by Professor Michael Massimino, Former NASA Astronaut and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University. Join us and get inspired to innovate during these difficult times of the pandemic!

The orbit of the Hubble Space Telescope is 350 miles above the Earth, 100 miles higher than the International Space Station. From that altitude, Professor Mike Massimino was able to see the curvature of our planet.  During his spacewalks, he was able to take in the magnificent views through his helmet visors with a 360- degree view of our planet and the surrounding universe. At first look, the thought that went through his mind was “this is like a view from heaven.” But after a moment, he realized that wasn’t quite right. His next thought was “no, it is more beautiful than that, this is what heaven must look like.” He felt like he was looking into an absolute perfect paradise. He then looked at the spacesuit he was wearing and realized that without it he wouldn’t be alive. He then turned his head to the blackness of space and thought “we have checked out the neighborhood and we have nowhere else to go, Earth is our only option for life. Our planet is beautiful and fragile, and we need to take care of it.”

*This event is open only to potential applicants of the Urban Works Innovation Challenge 2020-2021. Please indicate your interest to apply in the registration form.

About the Speaker:

Mike Massimino

Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut, is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University. He teaches and advises research in spaceflight topics including human factors, robotics, extra-vehicular activity (spacewalking), displays and controls, and planetary exploration.  He served as a NASA Astronaut from 1996-2014, flying in space twice and walking in space four times for the final two Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions. Mike’s particular interests focus on the design requirements and challenges of sending people to space.  These interests include the history of spaceflight, the space environment, spacecraft design, spacesuits, tool and techniques for spacewalking, psychology of spaceflight, training, mission control, robotics, environmental control and life support, aerospace medicine, and habitability.  As an astronaut he set team records for spacewalking time on Space Shuttle missions, and was the first person to tweet from space.  Mike has played himself on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory; and is the author of New York Times bestselling book, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe. Mike received his BS in Industrial Engineering from Columbia University in 1984, an MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 1988, and MS in Technology and Policy from MIT in 1988, the Degree of Mechanical Engineer from MIT in 1990, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 1992.  He is a Fellow of the Explorer’s Club and an Advisor at Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.