Campus To Reap Benefits of Instructor’s JPL Experience

Brent Wallace

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) sponsored a science lecture entitled “JPL Internship Experience” on March 25, hosting college faculty members including Joan Watanabe, who discussed her plans for a digital planetarium featuring pictures shot by the mars rovers.

The four speakers scheduled- physical science instructor Laura Tenenbaum, photography instructor Watanabe, Astronomy instructor Varoujan Akopian, and Moorpark Community College instructor Jim Sommers- were all members of a faculty intern program at JPL and had come to discuss topics related to what they had worked on at JPL.

Only Tenenbaum, Watanabe, and Sommers spoke since Akopian didn’t make it to the lecture.

Watanabe revealed her plans to put pictures shot by the Mars rover into the digital planetarium on campus. She showed the pictures the rovers have taken, and showed what goes into preparing these pictures for the planetarium. The primary picture Watanabe showed was a picture of one of the rover’s landing zones from the beginning of its mission.

“What’s really nice is that there are science and art students working together there. It’s a nice mix,” said Watanabe.

Watanabe worked with a small group of other interns on the Mars rover project. This group included, Dania De Jonghe, who is credited with creating the project, Richard Davis, Peter Moyes, Martin Weiss, Alex Nevarez, Arutyun Andzhunyan, Manik Alexanian, Arin Alexander, Verena Mercenier, and Amparo Remero.

Tenenbaum spoke about her plans to expand awareness on oceanic effects on the Earth’s climate. Her PowerPoint presentation included information such as the fact that oceans absorb 84 percent of the heat raised by global warming, and how specific satellites used by JPL give them crucial information about sea levels.

Tenenbaum intends to create a new climate change course curriculum. “The students are really interested in it,” said
Tenenbaum, “Everyone is interested in climate change right now.”

Sommers spoke about the history of meteorites and asteroids crashing into earth. He also spoke about the research that has been conducted, and needs to be put toward examining these objects in outer-space.

“I would like people to be knowledgeable that these do cross the earth’s orbit, that they are hazardous,” said Somers.

This lecture was the second of four in the spring lecture series. The next two lectures are “Lewis Carroll: Author and Mathematician” on April 22 featuring Dr. Sid Kolpas, GCC math professor, and “Implantable Electronic Medical Devices” with Frederick Melikian on May 27 from noon to 1 p.m. in SB243

The science lecture series is coordinated by Kolpas. For more information contact [email protected]

For more information on JPL, visit