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Maui Hosts Stellar Space Surveillance Conference

AMOS 2012 brings world’s sharpest space experts to Valley Isle students.

October 18, 2012
Cindy Schumacher , The Maui Weekly

The 13th annual Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference (AMOS) was held last month in the culturally rich setting of the beautiful Wailea Beach Marriott Resort. Organized by Maui Economic Development Board Inc. (MEDB), the four-day annual event is known as the top scientific conference in the field of optics and imaging for the surveillance of space.

Offering strong technical content, exhibit presentations and abundant networking opportunities, AMOS brought together scientists, engineers and space experts from around the globe and once again delivered a stellar program.

"The long-term goal of the AMOS conference is to increase worldwide collaboration to ensure global safety in space," said MEDB President and CEO Jeanne Skog. "There are 13 countries represented at AMOS this year."

Article Photos

Kamehmeha Middle School students pose in front of the Astro-Haven Enterprise Dome during the 12th Annual AMOS Conference. Air Force Research Laboratory will transport the donated dome, used to house a telescope, to an AMOS facility. “The telescope is for educational outreach,” said Dr. Stacie Williams, director of outreach at AFRL in Kihei. “Partnering with Georgia Institute of Technology, we are going to write the curriculum and do the Web facing so that teachers can control the telescope from their classrooms,” she said. “The students will be able to learn astronomy, study the moon and many other wonderful things.”

In the style of Maui's Hawaiian "sense of place," lei were worn at the welcome reception sponsored by the Boeing Corporation, and a traditional native Hawaiian invocation opened the conference.

In his invocation, Rev. Kealahou Alika, pastor of Keawala'i Congregational Church, reminded the participants that Haleakala is a sacred mountain. "Our ancients know it for its assets and spiritual significance," he said.

U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye presented welcome remarks via video. "Space surveillance is vital as commercial activities become more prominent in space," he said. "The AMOS conference is premier in the world for addressing space issues including the problems of congestion and debris."

Agreeing with Sen. Inouye, General William L. Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, said, "Orbital debris is a continuing challenge. All space-faring nations must be responsible and work together on concepts for removing hazardous debris that jeopardizes everyone's satellites."

On Wednesday evening, Sept. 12, Maui resident Major James Mikes, USAF, presented a tutorial about the Maui Space Surveillance Complex located atop Haleakala. The complex is a national resource that supports various government agencies and the scientific community. Major Mikes summarized the facility's capabilities and included a description of the telescopes and instrumentation.

Also on Wednesday, young-adult space professionals ages 35 and under attended an invitation-only New Generation Networking Reception co-hosted by the Space Foundation and MEDB. A number of attendees agreed, "This event is a great opportunity to meet mentors in the space business."

Throughout the week, a ballroom devoted to an exhibition of poster presentations provided a venue for side discussions and impromptu meetings. The poster session is an opportunity for authors to present their work and have in-depth discussions with conference participants.

Panel discussions during the scientific sessions covered a variety of technical topics. However, the need to get children more excited about space programs received special attention.

On the first day of the conference, panel members addressing technology transfer and commercialization agreed that we must "excite our youth with the magic of space."

On Thursday, Sept. 13, MEDB and the Space Foundation did exactly that. In what has become a highly anticipated annual event, they welcomed 300 middle school students. This year's Space-in-the-Classroom activities featured "Audience with an Astronaut" with Astronaut Dr. Leroy Chiao and a full-day workshop for teachers.

Volunteers and hands-on science experiments were provided by the Space Foundation and corporate sponsors Analytical Graphics, Air Force Research Laboratory, Boeing, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawai'i, Lockheed Martin, Maui High Performance Computing Center, Orbital Sciences Corporation and Pacific Defense Solutions.

Kamehameha Middle School science teachers Miki Kapisi and Trudi Vierra brought 28 students to the conference.

"Our students were invited to visit with industry leaders in the exhibit center where they learned first-hand what it takes to become a space explorer," said Vierra. "We came to talk with various space-related companies and learn the latest information in space surveillance technology."

"This was a great opportunity to bring space into the classroom," said Kapisi and Vierra.

"The Meet-the-Astronaut segment was an amazing experience for me," said Lokelani School eighth-grader Milena Lamonica. "If we work hard, we can be involved in the space business in many different ways, as Astronaut Chiao explained to us," she said. "He made me realize that it is possible to do anything and follow your dreams."

"In the Exhibit Hall at the Boeing display, I enjoyed seeing how wings lift an airplane into the air," said Lamonica, who thought another interesting exhibit was the infrared cameras.

"I thoroughly benefited from the Space-in-the-Classroom Teacher Workshop," said sixth grade Lokelani science teacher Tina Francis. "It provided fresh and fun classroom activities."

"Space is an exciting way to help students learn all about scale, changes of seasons, ancient Polynesian navigation and space technologies," said Francis. "Using project-based activities to help inspire and excite students about space, science and technology was the take-home message today."

An optional technical tour to the top of Haleakala was offered to AMOS conference participants. The tour proceeded to the 10,000-foot summit for a visit to the Maui Space Surveillance Complex, where guests were shown the 3.6-meter AEOS telescope at the Air Force facility and then visited the PanSTARRS telescope at the University of Hawai'i observatory.

The conference ended with an evening luau and show on Wailea Beach along with a fond "A hui hou kakou--until we meet again."



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