2020 – Looking Back, Looking Forward

2019 was a big year for us! Blue Marble Space and the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science marked 10 years of activity in promoting the cooperative exploration of space, examining life as a planetary process, and enabling a sustainable future on Earth. Our BMSIS Scientists and Blue Marble Space’s initiatives and their wonderful affiliates made huge contributions to the betterment of our world through exploration, education, research, and more. As we look forward to 2020 and what the future holds, we also want to take a little time to look back at a few of the accomplishments of the past year.

2019 marked 10 years for BMSIS!

April 22nd of 2009 was an important day for our organization. It was Earth Day, a day chosen in 1970 as a day to celebrate our beautiful Blue Marble and to demonstrate support for environmental protection. But, more than that, it was the day that Blue Marble Space (BMS) came online as a small, nonprofit startup.

2019 marked ten full years for BMS, given many of us involved with the organization the impetus to look back at all of our accomplishments and collaborations and dreams, both realized and still awaiting, over the past decade. We’ve had scientists and students join us in BMSIS as research affiliates or through our Young Scientist Program, we’ve shared the wonder of astrobiology through SAGANet and by developing the show Ask an Astrobiologist, we’ve seen science shared through Sciworthy, and the BMS initiative GreenSpace opened a store in Pennsylvania for selling microgreens, soil, worm castings, and more!

Below are some of the images and memories that were shared by our BMSIS Scientists and affiliates of BMS initiatives from 2019, looking back on an incredible year:

The Ad Astra Academy shared science with students in Nigeria and Brazil

The Ad Astra Academy is a unique education, outreach, and development project that brings the excitement of exploration to students in some of the most underserved regions of the world!

Curiosity is one of the most essential of human traits – a constant need to understand the world around us through uncertain tinkering and wandering journeys. Ad Astra Academy exploits this hard-wired trait to promote self-directed and inquiry-based learning, tapping into students’ natural curiosity to re-calibrate their relationship with the unknown and unlock their boundless potential. In 2019, they shared the joy of exploration and the excitement of learning with students in Nigeria as well as in Brazil! We look forward to seeing our fellow BMS initiative share these joys even more broadly in 2020 and beyond.

The NASA BRAILLE team explored lava tubes as analogs for space exploration

Biologic and Resource Analog Investigations in Low Light Environments (BRAILLE) is a NASA-funded project led by BMSIS Scientist Dr. Jen Blank. The project’s missions are to characterize signs of life (biological or chemical) within the lava tube caves, demonstrate planetary near-surface operations using the NASA Ames CaveR rover in a planetary mission scenario, and assess the performance of the rover-mounted scientific instruments in low or no light setting to further investigate astrobiology science and mapping. We look forward to seeing more exciting science coming from the BRAILLE team as they analyze their samples and data from their 2019 mission. You can follow the BRAILLE team on their Instagram Profile.

BMSIS Young Scientist Sherina Malkani and her lab had a successful run at Brookhaven National Lab, exposing human immune cells to GCR (galactic cosmic ray) components and studying the immune responses among 780 sample donors

BMSIS Scientist Dr. Tony Jia gave a public lecture at Ruia College in Mumbai as a part of India National Science Day

BMSIS Scientist Daniella Scalice gave a presentation to incarcerated youth in Utah in March, 2019

Our scientists and affiliates are actively seeking to improve education and access to information globally, are researching how life came to be and whether or not we’re alone in the cosmos, are sharing their insights with our fellow citizens around the globe, and are working to make our world a better place. Blue Marble Space has a mission to cultivate scientific innovation and entrepreneurship by engaging with lifelong learners, but also works to make our world a better place. So, in 2019…

We donated $2,000 to One Tree Planted!

Our donation ensured the planting of 2,000 trees through their organization. Check out onetreeplanted.org to learn more about their efforts and how our donation will be used.

But, wait, there’s still so much more!

The YSP co-sponsored the 2019 meeting of ASGSR (American Society for Gravitational and Space Research)

Not only did our BMSIS Young Scientist Program co-sponsor the 2019 ASGSR meeting (and at the same funding level as Blue Origin (ah-hem!!!!)), but several of our past and present YSP participants attended the meeting. They had a chance to talk science and meet with other members of the Space Biology community. Among them they had 4 posters and 2 invited technical talks. From left to right in picture above are Sherina Malkani, Simran Kalotia, Jhony Zavaleta, Molly Coyne, and YSP coordinator Meg Cheng-Campbell (missing from the image is YSP Nicholas Bense).

BMSIS co-organized the “why we are scientists” session at the fall meeting of AGU

Space in Your Face!, developed by BMSIS Scientist Julia DeMarines, shared space science with a multitude of audiences

BMSIS Scientist Dr. Siddharth Pandey was interviewed with regard to the fated Chandrayaan-2 mission from ISRO

Blue Marble Space co-sponsored the 2019 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon), with an appearance from the SAGANet booth

Daniella Scalice led an astrobiology program with First Nations youth in Western Ontario using puppets!  The students are members of the Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation

Several of our scientists took part in the mentorship program at AbSciCon. Here you can see Dr. Tony Jia with his meeting mentee, a University of Washington undergraduate student. The program allows experienced scientists to show younger and up-and-coming scientists how to navigate scientific conferences.

Dana and Daniella

BMSIS Scientist Daniella Scalice was part of a Star Knowledge Exchange and Culture Camp in April of 2019. This camp brought together students and elders of First Nations in Ontario with scientists and educators to share their knowledge together. The documentary below explores this camp:

BMSIS was a sponsor for MAX 2019: A Space Festival

Our scientists shared their knowledge with young people at the CalAcademy

And BMSIS Scientist and BMS CEO Dr. Sanjoy Som was the science advisor for an epic space-themed drag show as part of the event

We had a “hackathon” for One Flag in Space to develop an app for putting Blue Marbles on photos!

We’re so very proud of our Young Scientist Program. As always, it’s an honor when our scientists get to meet up with members of the YSP at conferences and other events!

Just a few more cool things from the past year…

Tony Jia gave a lecture for the Tokyo Institute of Technology Life Science and Technology Frontier Seminar Course

Sciworthy’s editor-in-chief, Gina Riggio, made lots of plates…

BMSIS Scientist Daniel Angerhausen shared all of the science, including by mentoring teams as part of the NASA Frontier Development Lab

Berfin Dag Sharing Astrobiology

YSP participant Berfin Dağ shared her passion for astronomy with others in her hometown of Mardin, Turkey

BMSIS Scientist Dr. Ivan Paulino-Lima organized the very first Yuri’s Night event in his home town of Marilia, Brazil

Our guests for Ask an Astrobiologist included:

Jill Tarter
Sarah Rugheimer
Jason Wright
Gordon Osinski
Yasuhito Sekine
Lucianne Walkowicz
Bruce Damer
Laurie Barge
Aaron Gronstal
Susan Schneider

We’ve had so many wonderful accomplishments over the past year as well as over the past decade! We’ve developed new outlets for education and research and sustainability and exploration. BMS has seen several initiatives over the past ten years…

From the publication of Sanjoy Som’s 2009 paper “an international symbol for the sustained exploration of space” to his 2019 paper “common identity as a step to civilization longevity”, a lot has happened within the organization that he started

As we look forward to 2020 and years to come, we have to wonder how many more awesome things are going to come from the people who make BMS and BMSIS so wonderful!