CLS: Exploring New Horizons: NASA

NASA has paved the way for space exploration and discovery. This week, learn about the impact of NASA’s technological advancements and the future of research in our galaxy and beyond.

Dr. Adam Gannon | Researcher

“Space Communications – Phoning Home: A Half Century of Space Communications and What’s Yet to Come”
10:30 a.m. Monday, July 3 | Orchestra Hall

From robotic platforms to human exploration, all space missions share one thing in common – they all require reliable communications. Radio waves from NASA missions crisscross our solar system every day, but how do these signals actually communicate information? This talk will teach how space communications works by exploring major developments in the over sixty year history of the field. From Sputnik to the Space Station, we examine the fundamental concepts and groundbreaking innovations that ensure communications across millions of miles are read “loud and clear”. Finally, we’ll showcase the research and development underway right here in Northern Ohio towards communications infrastructure to enable the next generation of space exploration.

Adam Gannon received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the State University

of New York at Buffalo in 2013, 2016, and 2018, respectively. At Buffalo, his research involved applications of cognitive radios in extreme environments such as space, underwater, and airborne. Since 2018, he has been an electronics engineer at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. He supported experiments on the Space Communications and Navigation Testbed onboard the International Space Station through its decommissioning in 2019. Dr. Gannon currently serves as the science & technology lead for NASA’s Cognitive Communications project which researches applications of artificial intelligence to space communications. He is currently the lead radio engineer on two satellite experiments demonstrating low-cost electronically-steered array antennas and automated service scheduling, respectively. He also serves as an advisor for modem development as part of NASA’s Gateway program which aims to establish a multi-purpose space station around the Moon to support long-term lunar exploration.

Dr. H. Philip Stahl | Physicist

“Webb Space Telescope – The First Light Machine”
10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 5 | Orchestra Hall

The Webb Space Telescope 10-year mission is to search for the first luminous objects of the Universe to help answer fundamental questions about how the Universe came to look like it does today, including formation of galaxies and protoplanetary systems. At 6.5 meters in diameter, Webb is the world’s largest space telescope. This talk reviews science objectives for Webb and how they drive its architecture, e.g. aperture, wavelength range and operating temperature, as well as the engineering that went into its design, manufacture and test. Finally, the talk presents science results from Webb’s first year of operation.

“Search for Earth-Like Planets Around Sun-Like Stars”
3:30 p.m. Thursday, July 6 | Orchestra Hall

The National Academy of Science has recommended that NASA’s next large space telescope (to be launched in the early 2040s) should detect and characterized approximately 25 Earth-like planets around sun-like stars. This talk reviews the science of planetary system formation, how exoplanets are detected/characterized and shows results from Hubble, Kepler, Spitzer, TESS and Webb space telescopes. It also discusses the engineering and practical constraints that will influence the mission architecture.

Dr. H. Philip Stahl is a Senior Optical Physicist at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, maturing technologies to design, manufacture, test and control ultra-stable high-precision large-aperture space telescopes to image exoplanets. Previously, he was responsible for developing mirror technologies for the Webb Space Telescope and overseeing the manufacture, test and certification of the Webb primary, secondary and tertiary mirrors.

Stahl is a leading authority in optical systems engineering and optical metrology with over 40 years of experience on large-aperture and segmented-mirror telescopes. Many of the world’s largest telescopes have been made with the aid of instantaneous, high-speed and infrared phase-measuring Interferometers developed by him, including the Webb Space Telescope, Keck Observatory in Hawaii, Very Large Telescope in Chile and Gemini telescopes. He discovered and funded the development of the 4D PhaseCAM technology. He was responsible for ensuring that the Webb mirrors met their specifications, including personally solving problems related to PMSA edge testing and ACF calibration. He is author of the “Stahl” parametric cost model for ground and space telescopes.

Since joining NASA in 1999, Dr. Stahl has managed SBIR Sub-Topics and technology development contracts resulting in the creation of new companies and dozens of new jobs. He has co-authored Agency technology roadmap documents and originated and organized the annual Mirror Technology Days in the Government Workshop.

Prior to NASA, Stahl was a Senior Staff Optical Engineer at Raytheon Danbury, where he was lead optical engineer responsible for refurbishing and operating the 4-meter Large Active Mirror Program (LAMP) mirror, fabricating and testing the Spitzer Telescope flight secondary mirror and developing the absolute metrology process used to test the LIGO Pathfinder Test Mass. Via Stahl Optical Systems, he supported several NASA Space Shuttle microgravity experiments. Other employers include Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Breault Research Organization, Perkin-Elmer Wilton, Hughes Aircraft and Wright-Patterson AFB. He was a Faculty Fellow at NASA Lewis (now Glenn) Research Center.

Stahl is recipient of a NASA Distinguished Service Medal; a Fellow of SPIE and Optical Society of America; member of International Astronautical Union, American Astronomy Society and IEEE; past Appointed Vice President to the International Commission for Optics and SPIE’s 2014 President. He earned his Ph.D. (1985) and M.S. (1983) in Optical Science at the University of Arizona Optical Sciences Center. He earned a BA in Physics and Mathematics from Wittenberg University in 1979. He is a 1975 graduate of Bellevue High School and 1999 inductee into the Bellevue Halls of Excellence. Stahl has over 150 publications and two patents.

Steven R. Oleson | Engineer

“Back to the Moon”
10:30 a.m.-noon Thursday, July 6 | Orchestra Hall

An overview of the NASA Artemis plans to return to the moon.  Discussion of the challenges of lunar exploration and the new types of systems we could use togo and stay there.  Landers, rovers, habitats, nuclear and solar power systems, communications systems, and in-situ resource system concepts will be reviewed by the presenter.  Many of these concepts were developed by his Compass Team at the John H. Glenn Research Center.  Finally, a discussion of how these systems will help us practice for Mars by operating on the moon.

“Humans to Mars”
10:30 a.m.-noon Friday, July 7 | Orchestra Hall

An overview of the NASA’s Human to Mars studies.  Discussion of the challenges of Mars exploration and the systems to go and operate there.  Transportation systems, Landers, rovers, habitats, nuclear and solar power systems, communications systems, and in-situ resource system concepts will be reviewed by the presenter.  As before, many of these concepts were developed by his Compass Team at the John H. Glenn Research Center.  Highlights will show the lunar systems evolution for use on Mars.

Steven R. Oleson is lead conceptual designer for the COMPASS Concurrent Engineering Design Team at the NASA Glenn Research Center—responsible for over 150 designs since 2006. Responsible for developing spacecraft system designs. Responsible as a technical expert and for managing COMPASS design study costs, milestones, deliverables, and schedules. Perform testing of advanced propulsion systems. He earned his B.S., Mechanical Engineering from Ohio Northern University in1986 and M.S. in Astronautical Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology, 1990

  1. Sample conceptual designs
  2. Mars Transportation Assessment Study: Nuclear Electric Propulsion-Chemical Propulsion Transports (2019-2022)
  3. Lunar Fission Surface Power Designs: 1 kW to 40 kW (2018-2022)
  4. Lunar and Mars ISRU Studies (2012-2020)
  5. Mars Architecture Team Studies: SEP-Chem (2015-2022)
  6. Lunar Lander and Ascent Vehicle Designs (2015-2018)
  7. Lunar orbiter and surface communications Designs (2007-2023)
  8. NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I & II Titan Submarine (2014 to 2017)
  9. 6-Month Venus Weather Station using In-situ Power (2016)
  10. Solar Power for Crewed Mars Surface (2016)
  11. NIAC Phase I Triton Hopper (2015)
  12. Nuclear Electric Propelled Chiron Orbiter (2015)
  13. NIAC Venus Landsailer Design (2012)
  14. NIAC Advanced Lithium Ion Venus Explorer (ALIVE) 5-day lander design with Pennsylvania State University and the U.S. Army Research Lab (2011)
  15. Fetch Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Asteroid Return (current Asteroid Return Mission Baseline) (2011)
  16. Europa Ice Sounder—Design Reference Mission (2010)
  17. Uranus SEP Stage—Decadal Survey Design with APL (2010)
  18. Lunar Network Satellite (2008)
  19. Lead for Propulsion (Advanced Propulsion Engineer), Project Prometheus’ Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter Project (1996 to 2002)


Jul 03 - 07, 2023

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/Denver
  • Date: Jul 03 - 07, 2023


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