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Stellar Program Returns to Wailea

Scientists, engineers and space experts from around the globe gather for AMOS 2013.

September 26, 2013
Cindy Schumacher - Contributing Writer , Maui Weekly

The 14th annual Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference (AMOS) was held Tuesday through Friday, Sept. 10-13, in the renowned setting of the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

Organized by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), a nonprofit corporation established to focus on diversifying Maui's economy, the annual event is the top scientific conference in the fields of telescope optics, adaptive imaging and Space Situational Awareness (SSA).

SSA is the characterization of the space environment and its effects on activities in space. It refers to the ability to view, understand and predict the physical location of natural and manmade objects in orbit around the Earth.

Article Photos

“Astronaut Chiao inspired the students with real-life experiences 220 miles above the Earth, just when they are the right age to become potential Mars explorers,” said ‘Īao School teacher Mark Cunningham.
Photo: Jose Morales (courtesy of MEDB)

Offering strong technical content, exhibit presentations and abundant networking opportunities, AMOS brought together scientists, engineers and space experts from around the globe.

"With the participation and support of Boeing, Analytical Graphics, the University of Hawai'i, Secure World Foundation, Space Foundation and other sponsors, an unparalleled stellar program is being delivered," said MEDB President and CEO Jeanne Skog.

"The long-term goal of the AMOS Conference is to increase worldwide collaboration to ensure global safety in space," said Skog. "There are 13 countries represented this year and over 130 technical papers were submitted."

It's important to exchange dialogue on tough questions about the need for growing numbers of military and commercial space assets to avoid collision with the potentially hazardous estimated 500,000 pieces of space debris in orbit.

In a world inundated with many complex and urgent problems, outer space must be kept safe, secure and peaceful. The space environment is used for national security, telecommunications, Internet, banking, telephones, television, navigation, scientific exploration and more.

AMOS contributes to a burgeoning aerospace sector in Hawai'i's economy, encompassing aviation, astronomy, robotics, space-related technologies, higher education and other service industries.

The program began on Tuesday with the 2nd Annual AMOS SSA Policy Forum.

"The purpose of this forum," said Skog "is to connect technical and policy SSA stakeholders from all over the world."

The range of keynote speakers, moderators and panelists included representatives from within the U.S. Department of State, Department of Defense, congressional, civil, commercial and non-governmental organizations, and other countries.

"As a space-faring nation, France shares concerns on SSA with U.S. and other allies," said Col. Franck Schrottenloher of the French Joint Space Command. "In order to achieve a better understanding of the space situation, cooperation is mandatory."

"For that, AMOS conference is a unique experience for sharing, collaboration and tremendous exchanges with U.S. partners," said Schrottenloher. "Bringing our experience and comprehension of SSA, we expect to be helpful for a better security and sustainability in space."

An opening invocation from Rev. Kealahou Alika of Keawala'i Congregational Church on Wednesday gave way to a moment of silence to honor the citizens in the world who died from violence and to honor the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

"The AMOS Conference remains the premier conference in the nation devoted to space surveillance," said Gen. William L. Shelton, commander of the U.S. Air Force Space Command, via video teleconference.

"This is evidenced by the continual growth in attendance and the corresponding increase in technical excellence and collaboration," Gen. Shelton said. "Both accidents and intentional events can produce large quantities of orbital debris that remain as threats for years or centuries."

Another vital concern of the AMOS Conference is to motivate students with early exposure in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math.

"We need to excite our youth with the magic of space," said Elliot Pulham, chief executive officer of the Space Foundation.

"Our Space in the Classroom activities on Sept. 12 awed 300 middle and high school students," said Pulham. The students heard former astronaut Dr. Leroy Chiao, toured the exhibit venue and went hands-on with science experiments."

"One of the greatest aspects of the 'Audience with an Astronaut' was to bring the real world into the classroom," said Wailuku teacher Mark Cunningham, who brought his science students from 'Iao School to AMOS.

"The students got to meet a real space explorer who provided them a genuine role model," Cunningham said. "He inspired them with real-life experiences 220 miles above the Earth, just when they are the right age to be potential Mars explorers."

"Lokelani Intermediate School student Ryan Dean said, "I had an amazing time!"

"I want to be a mechanical engineer and noticed so many different ways to be involved in the space business today," Dean said. "In the exhibit and poster session, I enjoyed learning about the huge telescopes on Haleakala that track satellites, and the importance of adaptive optics and imaging to track space debris."

Partnering with Space Foundation, educators across Maui County participated in a hands-on teacher workshop on the last day of the conference.

"We talked to the astronaut, investigated a thermal imaging camera, worked with gasses, lenses, telescopes and lasers," said Cunningham, who also attended the teacher's workshop.

"This class inspired me to encourage our young minds to take the next step, designing the next generation space ship, creating computer software to go 'out there,' or, literally, take the first step on Mars," Cunningham said.

An optional technical tour to the top of Haleakala was offered to AMOS participants on Saturday, Sept. 14. The tour proceeded to the 10,000-foot summit for a visit to the Maui Space Surveillance Complex. The complex, one of the best astronomical sites in the world, is where scientists use visible and infrared sensors and adaptive optics to collect, image and signature data on manmade, near-Earth and deep-space objects.

The conference ended with an evening lu'au and show at the Wailea Marriott's Lu'au Gardens.

MEDB is already preparing for AMOS 2014.



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