NASA Administrator Bolden visits Space Sciences Lab

On Thursday May 8th the U.C. Berkeley Space Sciences Lab was honored to have NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and his Deputy Chief of Staff Mike French (Cal Alumni) stop by for an informational visit and tour of our facilities

Dr. Stuart Bale presented the history of our lab and the high success rate of the 75 missions that we have flown scientific instruments on, including Space Shuttle missions, Explorer Satellites, Sounding Rockets and High Altitude Balloons.

Two upcoming missions and one current mission were discussed with Administrator Bolden and his team. MAVEN’s current transition from Earth to Mars was championed by Dr. Dave Mitchell, discussing data already being collected by the suite of instruments developed by the lab and upcoming science once we arrive at Mars. ICON’s science objectives were highlighted by Dr. Thomas Immel and Dr. Bale discussed the upcoming Solar Probe mission and the challenges that are faced in its design and observations that will take place as it orbits the sun. Laura Peticolas also discussed the Educational Outreach that our lab participates in to spread the word and get students interested in science.

Administrator Bolden then toured various parts of our lab including the great view overlooking the Bay and Golden Gate, Deployable Booms with Paul Turin, Wire Booms and sphere Preamps with Dr. Bonnell, the GRIPS and COSI Balloon program with Ben Maruca, and Carolyn Kierans, the SSL MOC or Mission Operations Center with Bryce Roberts, Mark Lewis and Dan Cosgrove, and finally the Stardust lab with Anna Butterworth and Andrew Wesphal.

Administrator Charles Bolden

Administrator Charles Bolden

Paul Turin demonstrating Deployable Antennas and Whips

Paul Turin demonstrating Deployable Antennas and Whips

Dr. Bonnell explaining Wire Boom Sphere Preamps

Dr. Bonnell explaining Wire Boom Sphere Preamps


Ben Maruca explaining the GRIPS and COSI Balloon Gondola


Carolyn Kierans and the Balloon electronics


Bryce Roberts and Mark Lewis showing the MOC capabilities


Administrator Bolden examining Stardust Aerogel under the scope


Administrator Bolden, his team and our Lab envoys


Come visit SSL on Cal Day, April 12, 2014




Join us on Cal Day, Saturday, April 12th, from 11am-5pm, the one day each year that Space Sciences Lab opens its doors to the public. Shuttles will be transporting the public every 20 minutes from Mining Circle on campus to SSL.

cal day activities

Activities Include:

  • Walking guided tours of the lab
  • Passport to Science@Cal presenting many fun activities for youth
  • Talks and Panels  (see topics below)

1 – 2 pm Lunar Eclipse

2 – 3 pm  Cool Careers in Space Science

3 – 4 pm pm  Imaging With Neutrons: Can You See a Flower Through a Granite Wall?

For more detailed information go to the “Events” page here: Cal Day 2014 Event

Bill Nye Promotes MAVEN


Bill Nye, “The Science Guy” is a guest speaker at the Kennedy Visitor Center on November 17th to discuss MAVEN and its mission to Mars. The spacecraft launched the next day atop an Atlas Centaur rocket and is scheduled for Mars Orbit Insertion, MOI, planned for September 22, 2014




Here is a photo of Bill Nye preparing to debate Ken Ham about evolution vs creationism on February 4, 2014. A closer look shows that Bill’s laptop proudly displays the MAVEN mission sticker. In the opposite corner is the JUNO mission sticker.


Solar Beacon Heliostats to be displayed at the Art in Science Gala

The Heliostats that were used to create the art installation called “Solar Beacon” will be displayed at the upcoming Art in Science Gala, November 1 and 2 at the Berkeley Arts Festival Gallery (admission is FREE).

The Heliostats were mounted on the top of the two Golden Gate Bridge Towers and reflected sunlight around the Bay Area during the summer of 2012 in honor of the Bridge’s
75th anniversary. Observers could make appointments online to have the light directed at them at a specific time and location. This is no longer possible, now that the
Heliostats are off the bridge, but you can see them up close  at the Gala. Details of
the artwork can be found at and the Gala at

Solar Beacon from Baker Beach

Solar Beacon from Baker Beach

Heliostat on South TowerHeliostat on South Tower