This year’s program offered strong technical content coupled with exhibit presentations and abundant networking opportunities, attracting over 630 scientists, engineers and technical specialists from around the globe.
Held in the beautiful setting of the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, the conference included features unique to Maui. Hawai‘i Pono‘ï, the state song and former national anthem of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, and a traditional Hawaiian invocation served to remind participants of the island’s native culture.
MEDB President and CEO Jeanne Skog presented the welina mai käkou (welcome all): “We are really pleased to bring the best minds in the field of space situational awareness to Maui. The AMOS Conference is considered an annual ‘must’ in the national scientific community.”
More than 630 participants from nine countries met from Sept. 13 to 16 at the Wailea Beach Marriot Resort & Spa for the Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) 12th annual Advanced Maui Optical & Space Surveillance (AMOS) Technologies Conference. Dr. Chris Sabol (above) of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), which is one of the main sponsors of the event, demonstrates advanced computer programs for space situational awareness amid other hands-on science experiments available for students at the AMOS Conference.
Photo: Cindy Schumacher
In his video greeting to the conference, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye reaffirmed his unwavering support for AMOS. “We have vital assets and capabilities on Maui to support this critical area of scientific research and development that can benefit the nation and the world,” he said.
“The space environment issue is important for everyone,” said Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa. “Witnessing an international community working together cooperatively is remarkable and impressive,” he said.
Retired U.S. Air Force (USAF) Lt. General Michael A. Hamel, the senior vice president of Strategy & Development of the Orbital Sciences Corporation, led a panel that addressed critical aspects of collaborative space situational awareness.
“We are working towards policies for sharing information among government, industry and academia so that we can safely navigate the increased number of satellites in space,” said Gen. Hamel.
Dr. David Finkelman, senior scientist at the Analytic Graphics Corporation, moderated a panel called “Space Debris Observation Status and Needs.” The panel included experts on space observation campaigns, monitoring and warning of the risk to geostationary satellites, estimating and understanding debris production, and tracking geostationary satellites for flight safety.
“The pursuit of space operations involves a significant number of daily tasks,” said USAF Gen. William L. Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. “With collaboration and hard work, we can achieve objectives that are a vital part of this nation’s security.” Gen. Shelton explained. “The main goal is a mature space alliance to increase global safety in space.”
UH President Dr. M.R.C. Greenwood noted, “We are the stewards of two of the finest science facilities in the world which sit atop Haleakalä and Mauna Kea.” Dr. Greenwood discussed the great opportunities available to students in Hawai’i and the importance of the next generation of youth embracing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Dr. Greenwood also applauded MEDB’s educational outreach programs. “MEDB’s mission involves taking innovative actions that strengthen existing industry, as well as creating new opportunities,” she said. “MEDB is changing lives.”
Brendan Curry, vice president of the Space Foundation’s Washington operations, discussed the impact of politics on space policy. “As the impasse continues between NASA and Congress, we support a NASA budget that will keep our nation’s investment in the future strong and give inspiration for us to be optimistic,” he said.
On Thursday, approximately 300 Maui-area middle and high school students participated in a full-day tutorial schedule. The agenda included an “Audience with an Astronaut,” hands-on, space-related science experiments and a visit with industry leaders in the AMOS Exhibit Center.
“This is an incredible day!” said Quine Keomoungkhoune, an eighth-grader at Lokelani Intermediate School. “Astronaut Dr. Leroy Chiao made a huge impact on me, and all the science activities inspired me to do better in school.”
Dr. Chiao presented video and photos of his six-month mission on board the International Space Station working alongside a fellow astronaut from Russia.
“Meeting with astronaut Chiao was a high point for the students and teachers,” said Baldwin High School Science teacher Graham DeVey.
About 30 middle and high school teachers participated in the “Space in the Classroom” workshop on Friday. The full-day program was designed to help them inspire, enable and propel their students to become the next generation of space explorers.
“We controlled submersible remote-operated vehicles in the hotel swimming pool, toured AMOS exhibits, designed and tried out lesson plans based on space technologies and manipulated science training apparatus available through MEDB,” said DeVey.
“This was an important opportunity for those of us teaching space science on Maui,” he said. “We also toured the Digital Bus, analyzed water samples taken on the grounds of the Marriott, explored two mock planets, and developed posters and descriptions of imagined species of life beyond Earth.”