Sincerely, NASA

We're all geeks in one way or another. Sports geeks. Music geeks. Fashion geeks. As for me, I'm a total space geek. So one day I took a shot in the dark and applied to be a part of Read more

If time were mine (illustrated)

I love to lie on my back and watch the sky. There's just something about it. Day or night, cloudy or clear...the sky is a portrait which we share with everyone on Earth. Our ancient ancestors watched the sky, Read more

If time were mine...

I've been patiently waiting, watching seconds fly by. Gazing with eyes colorblind like the time. Time that flies by must be blind to blue skies; if it weren't, surly time would stop and say "hi" Time would slow down Read more

Sincerely, NASA

We’re all geeks in one way or another. Sports geeks. Music geeks. Fashion geeks. As for me, I’m a total space geek. So one day I took a shot in the dark and applied to be a part of the NASA Social team. When I saw the email, I almost couldn’t believe it…

NASA Social Credential: Accepted
Congratulations! You have been selected to attend the NASA Social on June 30 to July 1 to cover the launch of NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.” 

Geeking. Out.

Sincerely. F***ing. NASA. I got to attend a space launch, tour an Air Force base, and had press and media access to some of the smartest people on Earth…I TOTALLY GEEKED OUT! Not to mention this mission could very well change our world forever. And I now have the pleasure of sharing my experience with you.

The Spacecraft: “a beautiful machine”

“It’s a beautiful machine, it’s my baby” said Randy Pollock as I ate my sack lunch. I looked up at him like an eager kid on a field trip. He’s been working on the OCO project since its inception over 13 years ago. The original OCO tragically failed to reach orbit in 2009. Five years and $467 million later, I could only imagine what he’s feeling today.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) is about the size of a telephone booth, weighs 999 pounds, and is full of impressive technology that allows it to orbit Earth while measuring carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in our atmosphere.
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2The OCO-2 will collect millions of measurements with three parallel, high resolution spectrometers which divide sunlight reflected off the Earth’s surface and measure it by recognizing the specific colors of infrared light absorbed by CO2 molecules. *Whew* that was a mouthful. Like Randy said, it’s a beautiful machine. 

The Mission: Watching the Earth breathe

This is the first NASA mission to measure carbon dioxide in our atmosphere from space. The OCO-2 is the newest addition to the A-Train, a constellation of other Earth science satellites following each other in orbit (a part of NASA’s Earth Right Now initiative). The OCO-2 will lead the train, orbiting the planet every 99 minutes. It’s mission is to collect data for the next two years; although they foresee it operating for far longer…pending future funds.

(Public support is necessary for organizations like NASA to conduct these kinds of missions. Please take time to thank your state senators and congressional representatives. With enough public interest, who knows where space exploration could lead us in the coming years.)

The Science: Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change

How the OCO2 measures atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is called a “greenhouse gas” because it traps heat from the Sun in our atmosphere, consequently playing a leading role in climate change. The Earth’s natural carbon cycles, which I’ll go into further detail on my next post, exchange carbon between the land, sea and atmosphere. The OCO-2 will grant us insight into the regions and rates at which CO2 is being absorbed and released around the world.

Slide from OCO2 NASA SocialIt’s no secret that humans have been aggressively clearing forests and burning fossil fuels over the past couple hundred years. We’ve been injecting CO2 into the atmosphere, but not taking any back like the ocean and forests do. Currently the CO2 level in our atmosphere is at 400 parts per million, up from 280 parts per million in the years just before the Industrial revolution, and higher than they’ve ever been in the past 800,000 years and beyond (according to ice-core samples). But here’s the kicker: we create more carbon dioxide than what we’re measuring in the atmosphere. We’d like to understand where the missing carbon dioxide is going, and if that process will continue, stop, or even reverse.

"The launch gantry is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite onboard, at the Space Launch Complex 2, Monday, June 30, 2014, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.  OCO-2 will measure the global distribution of carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth’s climate.  OCO-2 is set for a July 1, 2014 launch. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)"

The Launch: no shortage of peanuts

I shoveled a handful of peanuts in my mouth as I eagerly await the launch of the OCO-2 with my geeky comrades, some of whom traveled from as far as Pennsylvania and parts of Canada to witness this momentous event. I wasn’t hungry. The peanuts are a longstanding JPL tradition. No peanuts, no launch.Launch Viewing

JPL Peanut traditionAs mission control reads over the pre flight checklist, I can feel my heart race. This must be what it feels like for a teenage girl who’s about to go backstage at a One Direction concert. But alas, there’s launchpad malfunction, and since there’s only a 30-second launch window to rendezvous with the A-Train constellation…there’ll be no launch tonight. The group is convinced I didn’t eat enough peanuts.

So after an idle Tuesday soaking in the Lompoc culture and the beautiful murals that paint their town, the NASA Social team rendezvoused once more at the SLC-2 launch site. The fog was thick, as it was the night before, and although the team was heavily downsized (most of our members had to catch flights home) there was definitely no shortage of peanuts.

Credit: NASAYou could hear a pin drop as everyone held their breath during the countdown “10…9…8…” All my senses were on high alert, ready to absorb every detail of this moment, as it will no doubt be one I remember forever “3…2…engine start…1…zero…liftoff!” And on July 2, 2014 at 2:56am, the OCO-2 left Earth.

My binoculars were in-hand as I heard the low rumblings of a distant Delta II rocket. I desperately searched the skyline through the thick fog, hoping to see the fiery glow… where is it… I couldn’t see it! The rumbling reached its climax, and slowly faded back into silence.

The silence was broken by laughter; we couldn’t help it. All the anticipation we shared was met with mixture of slight disappointment and delayed excitement. (It’s not a successful launch until the OCO-2 reaches orbit, a crucial step the original OCO failed to do.) Eventually we could all breathe easy because the OCO-2 successfully made it into orbit alongside its A-Train constellation. After a few weeks of testing and calibration, the OCO-2 will begin its two-year expedition.

Credit: Jeff Sullivan

Luckily one of the NASA Social members, Jeff Sullivan, rose above the fog to capture some of the most breathtaking images of OCO-2 leaving Earth www.jeffsullivanphotography.com

The Experience: a NASA Social family

I landed in Santa Barbara feeling like a puppy in search of a wolf pack. I don’t have a degree in astrophysics, I don’t work for the government…I don’t even have an SLR camera. But what I do have is a burning passion for learning, meeting new people, and making new experiences come to life. And that, I quickly found out, is exactly what NASA Social is all about.

OCO-2 NASA Social

I’ve never been surrounded by so many diversely impressive people. Everyone was a genius in their own right, and did I mention extremely social?! NASA sure knows how to pick ‘em. If you’re interested in space exploration and have a passion for sharing experiences via social media, learn more about NASA Social.

Although I didn’t get to actually “see” the launch, I can say I was there when the mission left Earth. I also got to see a Delta II rocket up close, interview a science team on NASA Television, and befriend some impressive human beings. And it’s our collective hope that the OCO-2 will give us the knowledge we need to keep calling this planet “home” for millennia to come.

Thanks for reading,

Ryan Malaty
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More resources

WATCH our interview on NASA Television
WATCH the OCO-2 launch
Check for updates on the mission
Check out more of my pictures from the trip
Read these articles by Mika Mckinnon (she’s awesome)
FOLLOW NASA to stay connected

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If time were mine (illustrated)

I love to lie on my back and watch the sky. There’s just something about it. Day or night, cloudy or clear…the sky is a portrait which we share with everyone on Earth. Our ancient ancestors watched the sky, and so do I. And when I sat down that night to write, these words of time and sky flowed out of me.

When I write poems, I usually don’t know what’s going to happen. I just get this weird feeling, sit down, and write it out. I never told my little brother about my inspiration for this poem. But when he read it, this is what he saw:

iftimeweremine

Both of my little brothers, Brandon and Connor, are talented and crafty in their own rights. Brandon has always had a zeal for art. And we’re all grew up on Shel Silverstein. So when he drew this picture for my poem, I knew right away we had something special. Stay tuned for more.

~Ryan

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If time were mine…

I’ve been patiently waiting, watching seconds fly by.
Gazing with eyes colorblind like the time.
Time that flies by must be blind to blue skies;
if it weren’t, surly time would stop and say “hi”
Time would slow down when bright days arrive,
days like today, but instead it flew by.
If time were mine…
today would rewind, I’d pause and then play the day twice.
And if Time’s going forward, while I’m off to the side,
tell Time to wait while I soak in the sky.
I’ve spent enough time watching seconds fly by.
Each second can live only one life per eye.
Until time stops to admire blue skies, goodnight!

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Episode 4. Ex girlfriends & Jumper cables

bailey and me

Are You The One? Ep. 4. Ex girlfriends & Jumper cables

I was in a relationship for two years with a girl named Bailey. We met in college and things were great for awhile, but eventually we grew apart. I know it was a combination of things, but I think it’s mainly because I was ready for a serious relationship and she wasn’t. So we broke up. While we were together though, she embraced my weirdness. She was there to support me when my cousin died and when my parents got divorced. And I’ll always love her for that. But we weren’t the healthiest communicators. Our broken relationship wasn’t what I wanted. But I learned a lot about what I do want. Not only from a girlfriend, but from a lover, friend and companion.

CHALLENGE DAY
The cameras never bothered me. Potentially millions of people watching my every intimate move, not a problem. But seeing my ex girlfriend step off that bus had my heart beating its way through my chest. I didn’t want to believe it. But there was no escaping the situation. There she was.

challenge explosion

I did in fact get her jumper cables one year. Not for her birthday, but for Christmas. It was the Christmas my cousin, Joseph Villavisencio, died in a car accident on his way to visit us. Instead of opening presents together, we attended his funeral. That Christmas is a sore subject, and I was taken aback by Bailey’s use of it as ammo in this challenge.

jumper cables meme

Photo credit @pattyrmz07

I got Bailey those jumper cables, along with an emergency roadside kit, first aid kit, and everything else she needed for her car. Because believe it or not, she had a habit of getting into unsafe situations. For her to call me “the worst gift giver on the planet earth” was a little harsh.

I  brought Bailey flowers, dinners, jewelry, wrote her love notes…I took her on adventures, loved her family and friends, and made every attempt to be there for her in her times of need. I didn’t do these things for Bailey because she expected them, on the contrary, she’s not a high-maintenance girl at all. But I did these things because I loved her and it made me happy to do them.

I was a little heated by the fact that my ex belittled my gestures over our 2 year relationship. I understand the exes were pressured into delivering “dirt” on us, but still, I have every right to be bothered. And when I come to find my current love interest, Kayla, bonding with my old love…I’m even more uneasy.

Kayla delivers blow after blow from Bailey’s corner, and I’m not a fan. But later, I was able to put my frustration into perspective for Kayla, likewise I was able to smooth the surface with Bailey before she left…What a day.Most awkward conversation imaginable

DATE
I’m not one to hold grudges, and I wanted to be a good date for Kayla, so I forgot about the fact that my ex just delivered the stressful equivalent to a kick in the balls and I enjoyed myself. And our date was divine! The food was local, fresh and delicious. And I learned a few things on this date: Mai Tai’s are my new favorite drink, pigs love pretzels, and Brittany and Adam are a walking Jerry Springer episode. Dinner and a show!the perfect date

TRUTH BOOTH
Adam’s atomic reaction, although maybe a little much, wasn’t unwarranted. He made every reasonable attempt to get Brittany off his tail, and every man has his breaking point. Just so happens that Adam ‘the Hulk’ couldn’t handle Brittany’s shenanigans any longer. I thought the vein in his neck was going to explode. Either Kayla and I, or Adam and Brittany should’ve gone in the truth booth. Hands down. Dillan and Jess? I have no idea where that logic came from. But hey, Mr. Brightside says we learned something anyways. And now Coleysia can pounce on Dillan without the extra competition.adam the hulk

MATCH UP
Ladies’ night. There was very little communication amongst the girls, which is why I believe we only got 2/10 matches. Brittany picked me, and I was happy she didn’t pick Adam. But other than the mountainous scenery and the fine ladies themselves, things aren’t looking good on this island.

~Ryan

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WATCH Me and Kayla get in a little fight

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Episode 3. Games for days

Are You The One? Ep. 3. Games for days

glassesI understand why I’m on Kauai. It’s a game to win love and money…lust is on the agenda for some more than others. But for me, I believe in making a sincere connection with someone. Kayla and I are actually starting to make that connection, too.

I have to hand it to Scali, he sure knows how to play games. Even though Paige was interested in him, she was resistant to make it known in the house. So I can see where he feels the need to manipulate her. But that’s not my style. When it comes to girls, I don’t play games. If I like you, I’ll show it. If you like me back, great! If not, later.Simone definitely likes John, more than vice versa. But John makes an effort of laying all on the table, with complete honesty and sincerity. You can’t ask a man for much more than that. I guess sometimes there’s just traffic on a one-way street. And besides, John feels a stronger connection with Jacy…and it’s still early in the game.

neverhaveiever-05

CHALLENGE DAY
For this challenge, the ladies can just sit back and relax while their men *cough* grab some nuts! I was the only one who got the first quote right; I just figured Puerto Ricans are more hardcore. But I didn’t get a single one correct after that…story of my life!

“I have tazed an ex before” ~Jacy

“I’m notorious for hooking up with people’s brothers” ~Shanley

“I don’t believe in god but I do believe in ghosts and spirits” ~Brittany

“My favorite sexual position is doggy style because in my head it’s helping my butt get bigger” ~Simone

“I have stalked someone but I considered it recon” ~Coleysia

“I have backstabbed an ex by immediately hooking up with an NBA player” ~Kayla

“I don’t have a greatest life failure because I simply haven’t failed” ~Paige

“The most unusual place I’ve had sex was in a national park during the intermission of my ballet recital” ~Amber

“The worst date I have ever been on was to Denny’s and to top it off my date forgot his wallet” ~Ashleigh

“I have peed on someone in the shower before” ~Jessica

DATE
Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 4.45.11 PMI’m not a jealous person. I believe jealousy is poison in any relationship. Especially relationships that have yet to blossom. I can respect a girl’s space, I’m not clingy.

That being said…

When I see Kayla being touchy-feely with the other guys in the house, I don’t like it. It makes me feel like the attention she gives me is worth less. Like love-inflation. It’s hard to invest are your emotional energy into a relationship that isn’t giving it back. I want to get to know all the girls in the house, but right now Kayla is my intimate priority. I just hope we can see heart-to-heart.

TRUTH BOOTH
It was hard to see a tough girl like Simone break down like that. I tried to give her a hug, but nope! I actually never realized she was that upset about John. People went off and had their moments, and I’m seeing them for the first time on TV.

MATCH UP
Of course I pick Kayla. I didn’t know about the way she acted with Scali at the time. But to be honest, I would’ve picked her anyways. I mean, I’m not threatened by Scali or anyone else. And I still like Kayla. So why not?

imdone-04

Adam was far and away my most favorite part of episode 3. There’s a three minute sequence of him deciding to have sex with Brittany, followed by the most explicit and hilarious sex romp in MTV history...it was pretty much the best three minutes of my life.

Only time will tell if Scali’s mind games will pay off in the long run, and if Brittany will wise-up and realize that chasing Adam is a lost cause. And hopefully Kayla and I can get out of our love triangles and into a straight line, otherwise we’ll just be going in circles.

~Ryan

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WATCH us get into a food fight! (extended scene)

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A single match.

 A brilliant thought strikes,

just like a single wooden match. Out bursts an excited flame.

To extinguish the flame, do nothing.

Act quickly however, and this little flicker could grow into a roaring blaze!

Playing with fire is always risky and burns are to be expected.

To avoid getting burned, do nothing.

But be bold and courageous, and the flame will soon start to thrive.

Once a fire is fierce, the flames start to dance—keeping the rhythm is vital

Because those who can afford to stand idly by,

will be willingly trapped by the majestic trance.

They won’t try to fight it.

The idea that ignited it.

It inspired a fire, made the idle—excited.

Once ablaze the fire can easily spread, so it must be controlled

or else divided.

There are plenty of those, lacking flames of their own,

who’d retire from idle to pirate.

Even those foes, plagued with envy or woe,

will encourage the rain just to spite it.

So what’s to be said when the dark clouds dispatch?

Bring the wet, bring the cold, bring the dark…bring it all!”

For that brilliant inferno will burn on just as strong

as the light of the fire

which burns bright deep inside of

the one who ignited the match.

Ideas come and go.

Each one a like match, holds a glow of its own.

I am not sure where it comes from—but with it we can light up the world.

 ~Ryan

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Episode 2. Journal drama & Love triangles

Are You the One? Ep. 2. Journal drama & Love triangles

Mastermind is the name of the game I used to play as a kid with my mom. It’s a game of strategic problem solving. Much like the game of love we’re playing on Kauai. To win, we have to use a combination of feeling and reasoning. Of heart and mind. After getting 2/10 matches on the first week, I knew we needed to implement some kind of strategy.

The logic is simple. If everyone picks a different match, then we’ll know that any matches we get will be different than the first week’s. It’s a good way to start because later down the road it will be easier to go back and use process of elimination. Like a sudoku puzzle. Hopefully this strategy also encourages my roommates to get outside of their comfort zone, and get to know someone they normally wouldn’t approach.

lovetriangle-23

Amber was a good first match for me, we hit it off rather well. She’s the kind of girl you can trust. But now that we’re all picking different matches, I’ve got my sights set on someone else. Not only is she beautiful, she’s got a sweet southern personality and kind heart. Ever since we bonded over journal talk, I knew Kayla was someone special.

Kayla and I have our chemistry. But so does Kayla and Wes. It just so happened that when my journals were stolen, Kayla got me out of the situation, up a tree and into an immediate love triangle. Now it’s slightly awkward around the house. Wes and I have now shared two awkward moments together with this girl. Once in the treehouse, once again in the “classy cove” and I have a feeling we’ve only just begun.

challenge 2

CHALLENGE DAY
Getting lei’d with blindfolds on…sounds great right? Right? Brittany? Brittany! We had no chance. BRITTANY!!! She couldn’t hear me. Not even a little bit. It was like I was yelling at a sea turtle to do math. There was just no way we were going to win this one. But with Brittany’s awesome attitude, I still had fun. And that’s the whole point right?

DATE
I was actually jealous of this one! I love to surf. Anything outdoors is for me, really. But what better place to surf than paradise? I’m glad everyone had a good time. And to be honest, things at the house are a little less stressful without all 20 roommates in it. So I enjoyed the sun and extra legroom.

shanbritt-23

TRUTH BOOTH
Ethan and Jess seemed to have a natural connection. And I think it’s so sweet that Jess is sincerely looking for love. I believe sincerity is one of the most important parts of approaching any new relationship. Beings sincere establishes trust. Jess and Ethan seem sincere, so that’s who I voted for. There’s no point in sending Shanley in the truth booth two weeks in a row; that’d just be insensitive.

MATCH UP
We got out of our comfort zones. That’s for sure. This whole experience has been brand new to each of us, and we’re all trying to make the best of it. Feelings have been hurt, confidences questioned, but in the end there were four beams in the sky. I’m glad Kayla picked me. And I loved watching Brittany and Shanley go at it!

Screen shot 2014-02-03 at 6.45.37 AM

We are all on this island because we suck at relationships. But each one of us came here for different reasons. Some came out of curiosity, some for adventure, and some sincerely to find love. We didn’t even know about the money until we got here. The fact is, we’re all looking for someone special. And we are. Now’s our chance.

~Ryan

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[WATCH] me share my feelings about the ‘love triangle’ with Kayla and Wes.
[WATCH] the full episodes & more to get caught up.
[WATCH] me do a goofy dance.

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