The Juno spacecraft was launched using an Atlas V rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft is expected to reach Jupiter in five years.
“This was the first Tweetup for a planetary mission,” Buckner said.
She said her students could be starting careers by the time the spacecraft lands or using information sent from Juno in graduate study work.
Tweetup is a social-media event that allows participants to attend NASA launches and update the public via their Twitter feed.
“It’s like an ADD person home. It’s OK if I’m tweeting or texting or taking pictures,” Buckner said.
The Juno launch was the second time the teacher had a chance to participate in the program.
“The launch is a five-minute event. The Tweetup is a 48-hour event,” Buckner said. “Even though you go as one person you are there with all kinds of like-minded geeks.”
The organizing team wanted 10,000 people at the event.
The goal started with a comment made by Deputy Director for Planetary Science Jim Adams about wanting that many.
“He said ‘I really feel like you guys made it happen’,” Buckner said, commenting that the goal was reached.
During her time in Florida, she got to meet Andy Aldrin, Buzz Aldrin’s son, and talked to the scientists who had worked on the project.
The team even got to meet NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
Stephanie Schierholz, organizer of the Tweetup events, said she hopes participants leave with a greater interest in NASA and what it does, according to Buckner. Buckner said the Tweetup gives individuals a chance to experience NASA in a new way.
“I have been to eight shuttle launches ... when you go on the Congressional tours it’s ‘don’t bring this, don’t bring that.’ You basically have room for a spot on the bus and don’t bring anything else,” Buckner said. “The Tweetup is ‘make sure you come with all your electronics fully charged, make sure you come with all of your adapters ... ”
Three of those shuttle launches were the final launches for Discovery, Endeavor and Atlantis. Her first Tweetup was during the last shuttle launch for Endeavor.
When NASA hosts a Tweetup, it opens registration for 24 hours. Then participants are randomly selected. For the most recent Tweetup 4,000 people applied and150 participants were chosen.
Buckner was actually at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida when she received an email telling her she was on the alternates list for the Juno Tweetup. Later, she was moved to the definite list.
Buckner did not talk too much about the event when she got back because the April 27 storms had just hit.
Buckner’s trips to Florida are also benefiting her local students. Buckner said her science classes will use data from the NASA launches to work problems in class. During her last trip, she was given a technical manual for the solid rocket booster used by NASA which she will also use for her classes.
NASA started the Tweetup program in 2009. The next Tweetup will be for the GRAIL moon mission. More information is available at http://www.nasa.gov/connect/tweetup/. NASA’s Twitter feed can be viewed at www.twitter.com/NASA.