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Saturday, December 9, 2023
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Governor Hosts Virtual Visit Between NASA and Students

NASA’s rendering of the James Webb Space Telescope, a large infrared telescope that will be launched on Christmas Eve to study deep space and the origins of the galaxy and the universe. (Submitted by NASA)

Last week, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. invited National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and U.S. Virgin Islands students from the public, private and parochial schools and hosted a virtual event with Education Commissioner Raquel Berry-Benjamin and National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA)’s Stefanie Sass and Kaila Davis.

Hundreds of students visited with NASA virtually to learn about NASA’s mission and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) literacy.

Steve Bullock, NASA’s USVI Solar System ambassador, offered a presentation about space exploration and NASA’s missions. Greg Robinson, deputy associate administrator for programs in the NASA Science Mission Directorate and James Webb program director, gave the kids a bird’s eye view of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a large infrared telescope that will be launched from French Guiana on Christmas Eve.

“It is encouraging to see hundreds of kids interested in NASA and space. The purpose of the interaction with NASA was to demonstrate STEM and to help students see themselves at NASA, as astronauts, in STEM roles, and learning the skills needed for the jobs of the future,” Bryan said.

He also thanked Teri Helenese, the USVI director in Washington D.C., for bringing NASA to the Virgin Islands and inspiring the next generation of explorers.

The new observatory has been designed to look deeper into the universe than its predecessor and, as a consequence, detect events occurring further back in time, more than 13.5 billion years ago. Scientists also expect to use its more advanced capabilities to study the atmospheres of distant planets in the hope that signs of life might be detected.

NASA interns Stephanie Bullock from the Virgin Islands, Robyn G. Reichle and Jamarius J. Reid discussed their profiles and roles at the space agency, and they familiarized the students with NASA operations.

For their part, the students were surprised and excited to find out, “Wow, we have somebody from the V.I. at NASA!” and they applauded Bullock.

Reichle explained to the students that at NASA, beyond STEM, there are opportunities in law, human resources, finance, creative and other disciplines, and Reid provided the kids with a roadmap on how to set a career at NASA. The students will always remember their first NASA experience and the initial in a two-part series.

Next year, NASA will send astronauts to the Virgin Islands for an in-person space and launch event with all school-aged students in the territory.

The James Webb Space Telescope is being jointly developed by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. It is planned to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship astrophysics mission.

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