Broadcast 3118 Emily Lakdawalla

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Guest:  Emily Lakdawalla;  Topics:  Guidelines for improving conference talks, guest appearances including radio, listener call in questions and comments and her new book on how Curiosity the rover actually does its job.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See   

We welcomed Emily Lakdawalla back to the show for a one segment 65 minute discussion regarding her blog post from Feb. 6, 2018 titled "Speak your science:  How to give a better conference talk."  You can read and download this article at When I first read Emily's article, I thought about applying it to being a better guest on The Space Show and for listeners and callers to be better at asking questions and offering comments and opinions.  Not only did we talk with Emily about delivering a better conference paper per her article but we also applied the guidelines to Space Show applications. 

As you will hear, Emily started out by explaining the genesis of her article which was a recent session of the Houston based Lunar & Planetary Science Meeting.  Listen to what she said about the talks and why she decided to offer advice per her article.  She had excellent suggestions and points in her article plus she highlighted many of them for our discussion so do listen carefully.  I also suggested you read her article as Emily did a good job of organizing, listing and explaining each of her suggestions. 

After talking about conference talks, we focused on The Space Show applications which by the way would also serve non-conference talk situations for different organizations and media types. Listeners sent in several emails using typical Space Show callers, emailers and blog participants as examples for Emily to consider and then apply guidelines, rules, or management supervision to the situation.  Man of the comments accurately portrayed a few Space Show callers and situations and in many cases I agreed with the emailer.  I also asked Emily about blog comments for a particular show being hijacked by a few people for their own discussion, thus shutting out everyone else and robbing the guest of a chance for a discussion regarding his or her appearance on TSS.  As you will hear, Emily said their needed to be clearly defined blog management guidelines that I would need to enforce unless that role was assigned to someone else.  Emily and I talked about my doing this for TSS blog as well as for calls and emails during live shows.  Emily also talked about the rules and guidelines used by the Planetary Society.  I believe you can find these guidelines here:  After listening to our discussion and getting an idea of the type of guidelines Emily was talking about, what do you think about applying some of this to TSS to improve the quality of callers, email questions and to prevent the blog from being hijacked for personal discussions by just a few people.  Let us know what you think by posting comments on the blog about this subject. My goal would be to improve and increase the number of calls to Space Show programs and to enlarge blog discussion and up the quality of such discussions.

Later in the segment we turned to Emily's newly released book, "The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs its Job."  Remember, if you buy it through Amazon, please use the Amazon portals for TSS so that Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase price to TSS.  To learn more about this, just click on the big Amazon link on our home page.  Amazon has two programs we participate in so check them out and use them for all your Amazon purchases, not just books.

We took many listener questions regarding Curiosity.  Emily talked about using the NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) for a good portion of her research (, plus the interviews she had with key people such as Rob Manning and others.  She told us several great stories about Curiosity that she discovered while researching her book including one regarding the ChemCam instrument.  We talked about  the complex system of system engineering , integration, multiple levels of testing and even lessons learned.  It was an excellent discussion and could easily apply to other complex NASA missions.  Thus, I asked her about JWST and its problems and then the new InSight mission on the way to Mars.  Emily had much to say about both of these missions and the need to do complex missions to be on the cutting edge even with the added risk to the mission, again as represented by JWST.  This too was a most interesting discussion so don't miss it.

As the program was about to end, I asked Emily if her next book would be about the JWST given her previous comments on the space telescope project.  I was surprised that her next book would also be on Curiosity but listen to what she said about that and what the second Curiosity book will be about.  We concluded our discussion with Emily talking about speaking gigs for the book or her planetary science expertise.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  You can reach Emily through me or her contact information at The Planetary Society:  Her blog is at   




better space and tecommunications, Emily's new book, "The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job "

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18 May 2018 Emily Lakdawalla
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