Ralph Crewe


Program Development Coordinator

Carnegie Science Center


Ralph Crewe is Program Development Coordinator at Carnegie Science Center. Some of his programs include SkyWatch astronomy nights, the SNaQ podcast, Cafe Scientifique, Solar Sunday, and development of planetarium and science on the road shows. Along with making regular media appearances on local radio, television and newspaper outlets, he is the author of the Stargazer column for the Post-Gazette, and frequently makes appearances alongside WTAE Chief Meteorologist Mike Harvey in live weather science shows at schools all over Western Pennsylvania.




Sophia Bogat


Integration Lead in Mars Exploration Program

NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC


Sophia Bogat works on the Human Landing Site Study (HLS2) at NASA HQ’s Mars Exploration Program, with the goal of identifying the location of the first human base on Mars. As an integration lead, she organizes teams to study advanced mission concepts for Martian exploration. Day-to-day, she is tackling the reconnaissance and science questions that we need to answer to make the human exploration of Mars possible. Sophia holds a Bachelor of Science in physics and astronomy from the University of Texas, and she spends her free time creating space paintings and writing science comics.


Talk Title: Looking Ahead to Human Exploration of Mars

Sophia will present an overview of some of the major challenges involved in the human exploration of Mars, with a focus on the reconnaissance needed to overcome those challenges. Next-generation orbital and surface reconnaissance will be necessary to better understand the Martian water resources that will support human missions, and to provide high resolution images of potential landing sites. This talk will share the progress made by NASA’s Human Landing Site Study, tasked with identifying the first human landing base on Mars. It will also cover the lessons learned from previous space exploration missions, and the key questions we need to answer before we can establish a sustainable human presence on Mars. For students, Sophia will share the many ways you can get involved with the Mars exploration community and with NASA.




Dr. Bruce Banerdt


Principal Investigator of the Mars Insight Mission


Dr. Banerdt has spent the last 20 years working to put a seismometer on Mars. Seismology is the “gold standard” for investigations on Earth, he says. In addition to heading InSight’s science team, Banerdt is the lead for the mission’s SEIS instrument, which will bring the power of Earth-based seismology to the Red Planet. For him, InSight represents a unique opportunity to get a window into the “hidden” processes that shaped not only Mars, but also all the terrestrial planets.


Talk Title: The InSight Mission to Mars

InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program that enables small-scale, highly focused missions to answer critical questions about how our Solar System formed. The lander is equipped with geophysical instruments to study the deep interior of Mars.  Its investigations are designed to illuminate the processes that shaped the terrestrial planets of the inner solar system more than four billion years ago.

InSight landed on Mars in November 2018.  With a highly sensitive seismometer, heat flow probe, radio science instrument, and cameras, InSight will delve deep beneath the surface of Mars, detecting the fingerprints of the processes of rocky planet formation.  InSight will measure the planet’s “vital signs”: Its “pulse” (seismology), “temperature” (heat flow probe), and “reflexes” (precision tracking).




April Lanotte


Education Support and Instructional Design

NASA Aeronautics and NASA Space Technology


Born and raised in Mars, PA, April Lanotte has been working with NASA in a variety of capacities since 2011. She currently supports NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. In addition, she is the Director of Education at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver, CO. An educator for over twenty years, April works on making aerospace science more accessible to teachers and students. Current projects include working on education activities that focus on sUAVs (drones) and upcoming space technologies.

April holds a Master of Science in Space Science Education from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, a Master of Arts in English Literature with a Nonfiction Science Writing emphasis from Colorado State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

With graduate degrees in both Space Science Education and in English, April has contributed a STEM Literacy chapter to Best Practices in STEM Education: Innovative Approaches from Einstein Fellow Alumni, which was released in the fall of 2018. Other published aeronautics projects include small unmanned aerial vehicle lessons and activities, an activity guide that focuses on Earth’s atmosphere and human survival at high altitudes, development of AOPA’s high school aviation curriculum, and lessons that support ShareSpace Foundation’s Giant Moon Map. She has also contributed science content to Challenger Center for Space Science and Disney’s Youth Experiences in Science.


Talk Title: Mars and Beyond: What We Need to Get to Mars

Born and raised in Mars, PA, April Lanotte will discuss her role with NASA, along with a variety of ways people can get involved with NASA, too.




Douglas Terrier


NASA Chief Technologist

NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC


Douglas Terrier is the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters, serving as the senior leader in the office.  In this role, Terrier is the agency’s principal advisor and advocate on NASA technology policy and programs, helping plot the strategic direction of the agency’s space technology program.  Prior to his current position, Terrier worked at NASA:s John space Center, Houston as the Center’s chief technologist, serving as the principla advisor to the center Director for technology and the Center point of contact for the Agency Chief TEchnologist and the Space Technology Directorate.


Talk Title: NASA’s Return to the Moon as the Gateway to Mars

Terrier will discuss NASA’s plans to return Americans to the Moon by 2024 and how creating a sustainable American presence on the Moon will maintain American leadership in space while also enabling our future exploration of the Red Planet.





Richard Rieber


Mars 2020 Mobility Systems Engineer

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA


Mr. Rieber is the Mobility Systems Engineer for Mars 2020, the next rover NASA is sending to explore Mars.  Rich oversees anything and everything that affects how the rover drives, including the tires, autonomous navigation algorithms, and the drive-planning software used by the operators.  He has been at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 11 years, and has had major roles as an Activity Lead for the EPOXI mission and as flight director for SMAP, deploying its 6-meter antenna.  Rich holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering and a minor in Astrophysics and an MS in bioastronautics all from the University of Colorado and a Masters in Space Management from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France.


Talk Title: Designing for a Martian Road Trip

The Holy Grail of planetary geology is to analyze geologic samples from another planet in labs on Earth.  The Mars 2020 rover is the first step in returning geologic samples from Mars.  It will collect interesting material from across the landing site and leave them in one place, or depot, for another mission to bring back.   To collect and deposit samples, Mars 2020 must drive further and faster than any other rover sent to Mars.  We will discuss the technology required to make this happen, including new tires and autonomous driving.





Dr. Mitch Schulte


Program Scientist

NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC


Dr. Mitch Schulte is a Program Scientist with the Mars Exploration Program in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.  As a Program Scientist, Mitch manages the science content of a number of NASA’s Mars missions.  Currently, he oversees the U.S. contribution to the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA) instrument on the European Space Agency ExoMars rover and NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover, both scheduled for launch in July 2020.  He is also the lead scientist for the Mars Data Analysis, Instrument Concepts for Europa Exploration, and Habitable Worlds Programs for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program and Planetary Science Division.

As a researcher, Mitch has studied the geology and geochemistry of hydrothermal environments and the life that inhabits them.  He also is interested in biosignatures and life detection in ancient Earth and extraterrestrial samples.  He is on the editorial board of the scientific journal Astrobiology and on the advisory board of the Big Questions Institute at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Schulte has an A.B. and a Ph.D., both in Earth & Planetary Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.


Talk Title: What’s Happening at Mars?

Dr. Schulte will describe NASA’s efforts to study the Red Planet over the past 50 years. He’ll tell you what is going on with current missions in orbit above and working on the surface of Mars and the next decade of Mars Exploration.





John Thornton


Chief Executive Officer



John Thornton has grown Astrobotic’s business of delivering affordable space robotics technology and planetary missions by attracting technology contracts, equity investment, and payload customers. Thornton is coordinating the team and alliance for Peregrine’s development and the first mission. At Carnegie Mellon, Thornton led the build of Scarab, a NASA concept robot for lunar drilling, and the first robot to carry a prototype of NASA’s RESOLVE payload. He founded Carnegie Mellon’s Advanced Composites Lab, a research, training, design, and manufacturing lab specializing in high performance, lightweight composites for robotics.





Dr. James (Jim) Lauer Green


NASA Chief Scientist, Planetary Science Division

National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Dr. Green received his Ph.D. in Space Physics from the University of Iowa in 1979 and began working in the Magnetospheric Physics Branch at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in 1980. At Marshall, Dr. Green developed and managed the Space Physics Analysis Network that provided scientists all over the world with rapid access to data, to other scientists, and to specific NASA computer and information resources. In addition, Dr. Green was a Safety Diver in the Neutral Buoyancy tank making over 150 dives until he left MSFC in 1985.

From 1985 to 1992 he was the head of the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). The NSSDC is NASA’s largest space science data archive. In 1992, he became the Chief of the Space Science Data Operations Office until 2005, when he became the Chief of the Science Proposal Support Office. While at GSFC, Dr. Green was a co-investigator and the Deputy Project Scientist on the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) mission. He has written over 100 scientific articles in refereed journals involving various aspects of the Earth’s and Jupiter’s magnetospheres and over 50 technical articles on various aspects of data systems and networks.

In August 2006, Dr. Green became the Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. Over his career, Dr. Green has received numerous awards. In 1988, he received the Arthur S. Flemming award given for outstanding individual performance in the federal government and was awarded Japan’s Kotani Prize in 1996 in recognition of his international science data management activities.





Mike Harvey


Honorary Chairman

WTAE-TV, Chief Meteorologist


Chief Meteorologist Mike Harvey anchors the 5:00, 5:30, 6:00 and 11:00 PM Newscasts for Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.

He is a member of the National Weather Association and the American Meteorological Society and holds both Seals of Approval.  Mike received the CBM designation from the American Meteorological Society, the highest certification given by the organization.

Mike is a multiple EMMY award winning meteorologist.  Mike was also chosen as “Weathercaster of the Year,” by the South Carolina Associated Press.

Mike has been a broadcast meteorologist for over 20 years.  His previous broadcast television experiences have taken him from the snows, bitter wind chills and tornadoes of the Northern Plains, to the persistent drizzle of the Pacific Northwest, to the humidity and hurricanes of South Carolina and Virginia and to the deserts, monsoons and mountains of the desert Southwest.  Mike worked previously as Chief Meteorologist in Portland, Oregon, Greenville, South Carolina, Phoenix, Arizona and Norfolk, Virginia.  

Mike spent four and a half years in the U.S. Coast Guard as a navigator (quartermaster) patrolling the Caribbean to the Great Lakes.  He received three meritorious commendations for his work during drug patrols in the Caribbean, flooding in the Great Lakes and Green Peace protests in Washington State.

He majored in Aerospace Science at Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado.  After completion of college and prior to his days on television, Mike worked for the Jeppesen/Boeing Aviation Corporation in Denver.  He studied meteorology at Mississippi State University.  

Mike is involved in many charities and is Chairman of WTAE’s Project Bundle-Up.  Project Bundle-Up is a joint effort of WTAE-TV and The Salvation Army.  The program has raised over 14 million dollars and provided new winter outerwear to over 275,000 disadvantaged children and seniors across Western Pennsylvania.

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