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Visit from Dr. Paul Abell (former Wawanesa student)

Wawanesa School was very privileged to have Dr. Paul Abell visit us on September 7 all the way from the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Abell’s official title is Chief Scientist for Small Body Exploration. In simpler terms, he studies asteroids.

 

Dr. Abell presented his work to our grades 3-12 students in a number of different presentations throughout the day and shared his passion for space exploration and research.  He is currently involved with NASA and Japanese space agency missions to send probes to collect samples of asteroids and return them to Earth. He shared with us the details of how these missions work and opened students’ eyes to the world of asteroid research and the nature of these large projects.  The NASA probe is scheduled to reach its target asteroid this December, and we are already looking forward to a return trip from Dr. Abell to find out what the asteroid samples will tell them.

 

He is also involved in the planning stages of a mission that proposes to send astronauts to an asteroid “close” to Earth. While this asteroid is much farther away than our moon, it is much closer than Mars and would be a good way to see if a Mars trip is possible. Who knows? Perhaps a Wawanesa student will be one of those astronauts! We can’t thank Dr. Abell enough for taking time from his very busy schedule to spend the day sharing his work with us. This was a rare opportunity for our students to see science in action on such a large scale. We look forward to a return visit from Dr. Abell in a few years!