What began as any other conference turned out to be one of MEDB’s most extraordinary events. Set against the beauty of the Pacific Ocean at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference (AMOS) held its 11th annual event from Tuesday to Friday, Sept. 14 to 17.
MEDB presented the premier international conference on Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and imaging technology, which facilitates information sharing and collaborative partnerships among researchers involved in space surveillance and optical systems development.
MEDB is a nonprofit organization that works with an extensive network of public, private, and other nonprofit partners to achieve a balanced economy for the community of Maui and Hawai‘i while protecting the community’s environmental and cultural values.
The Maui Economic Development Board brought in several key persons for the 11th Annual AMOS Conference. (Left to right) Valerie Skarupa from the Operationally Responsive Space Office in Washington, D.C.; White House National Security Council Space Policy Director Peter Marquez; MEDB President and CEO Jeanne Skog, Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham and MEDB Program Director Sandy Ryan attended the event, which welcomed over 640 experts in the field from all over the world.
Photo: Frank Rizzo, courtesy of MEDB
The time-honored welina mai kākou, welcome all, began with a traditional Native Hawaiian invocation by Rev. Kealahou Alika of Keawala‘i Congregational Church. While speaking of the technical exchanges about to happen at the conference, Rev. Alika reminded all to “walk gently on the Earth.”
In a video greeting, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye thanked and congratulated MEDB for “more than 25 years of championing assets to benefit Maui, the state and the nation. With its cross-section of government, academia and industry participation, AMOS is unmatched by any other conference in the world.”
The continued growth in attendance and the corresponding increase in technical excellence and collaboration were also noted by keynote speaker Major Gen. Susan J. Helms, USAF. “All fields need to work together along with our international partners to make decisions that will enable all aspects of space surveillance,” she said.
Gen. Helms, the first U.S. military woman to fly in space, participated in four shuttle missions and served with the International Space Station’s Expedition-2 crew.
“Looking up to space and down from space is remarkably breathtaking,” said Gen. Helms.
The Space Foundation was a key player at AMOS this year. Their involvement included a reception for young space professionals and a “Space in the Classroom” education program for teachers and students.
“We are here to motivate our youth and let them know that they can do anything they put their minds to,” said Space Foundation CEO Elliot Holokauahi Pulham.
On Thursday, approximately 300 students from several Maui schools joined the AMOS conference for an opportunity to hear former astronaut Robert L. Curbeam Jr. (a retired U.S. Navy captain) talk about one of his International Space Station missions.
“The best part of the program was the astronaut’s talk and the video he showed us,” said Kalama Intermediate School sixth-grader Noa Harrisson. “It was 17 minutes of film from his space shuttle trip. Seeing the Earth from space and seeing him walk in space was awesome.”
Student questions to Capt. Curbeam ranged from, “What do you eat in space?” to “How do you go to the bathroom?”
However, the most profound question asked was, “What was your first feeling when you saw the Earth from space and how has it effected your daily life?”
Curbeam replied, “The first moment I saw the Earth from space, I wondered who created it and how. Seeing its fragility, I have become a conservationist and want to protect it.”
Air Force Research Laboratory personnel conducted a hands-on activity session and Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI) presented video animations using their Satellite Took Kit Software for the students.
“One other thing I really liked was learning about voltaics and opticals,” said Harrisson. “We got to try out some experiments, and one of the presenters from the Air Force showed how solar panels can be wired to make noise, not just heat or light.”
Students also explored the AMOS exhibit and poster display.
“The sessions we went to showed us that studying science and technology can end up in interesting jobs. One day I would like to see Maui from space,” Harrisson said.
On the last day of the conference, MEDB, the Space Foundation and AGI held a Space-in-the-Classroom Teacher Workshop for 25 middle school and high school teachers. They were shown how to incorporate space activities into the classroom to get students excited about science.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop with its easy-to-understand presentation by Dr. Kelso from AGI,” said Kīhei Charter High School Engineering and Technology Facilitator Evelyn Zayas.
“Some of these technical concepts would be very difficult to grasp if it were not for the visualizations of the mechanics of orbiting satellites shown in the animation software provided by AGI’s Satellite Tool Kit,” said Zayas. “Students will undoubtedly love to work with this software, which is free to download and use in the classroom.”
Overall, this year’s AMOS conference presented discussions on the increasing globalization of space, the need for collaboration and cooperation, and the impact of the new U.S. Space Policy.
Conference organizers all agreed—“future success in space depends on an educated workforce, and now is the time to build that workforce.”