February 07, 2018

Rose Park’s NASA ambassador prepares for incoming space rocks

NASA Ambassador Amy Oliver answers questions and passes out protective glasses in Teton Village at Jackson, Wyoming during the Total Solar Eclipse in August, 2017. Photo courtesy of Amy Oliver|The OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft is over ten feet high and was launched in 2015 in the nose cone of an Atlas rocket standing over 150 feet high. It will arrive at Asteroid Bennu in 2018 and be back in the orbit of Earth during 2023. Besides chemical science, OSIRIS-Rex will study methods of avoiding asteroid collisions. Images by NASA.|Images by NASA.|||| NASA Ambassador Amy Oliver answers questions and passes out protective glasses in Teton Village at Jackson, Wyoming during the Total Solar Eclipse in August, 2017. Photo courtesy of Amy Oliver|The OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft is over ten feet high and was launched in 2015 in the nose cone of an Atlas rocket standing over 150 feet high. It will arrive at Asteroid Bennu in 2018 and be back in the orbit of Earth during 2023. Besides chemical science, OSIRIS-Rex will study methods of avoiding asteroid collisions. Images by NASA.|Images by NASA.|||| ||||||

By Michael Evans

Amy Oliver is a resident of Rose Park, working at a PR firm downtown – but she is also a NASA Ambassador, taking the general public throughout the Solar System with her presentations about NASA’s projects in space. NASA Ambassadors receive special training from NASA and the mission’s headquarters in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona.

“My interest in science began with Cassini,” Oliver said, and after her father gave her a stack of colorful NASA material.  When Cassini the spacecraft finished its work after decades around Saturn in October of 2017, Amy led a public gathering watching the event.

Ms. Oliver has been selected as a Utah Ambassador for the OSIRIS-REx mission, a spacecraft on its way to the tiny asteroid Bennu later this summer. After taking time to synchronize their movements, OSIRIS-Rex will take samples of Bennu’s surface, and eventually launch its capsule full of asteroid particles towards Earth, for a soft landing in Utah during 2023 near Dugway. The spacecraft will then “park” itself near Earth, in orbit around the Sun, for future use.

For those who are curious, OSIRIS-Rex means: O for Origins, SI for Spectral Interpretation, RI for Resource Identification, S for Security (possible deflection), and Rex for Regolith explorer, or the gathering of surface rocks, dirt, and dust.

“People living in Utah may just have the opportunity to see the OSIRIS-Rex capsule parachuting down through the sky as it returns home. To me, there’s nothing more exciting than knowing that samples and data collected from this important NASA mission will end up in our own backyard,” she added.

“Our state is such a key player in this mission,” said Ms. Oliver and I want every person in Utah to be excited, and especially young girls who are interested in science and space. Science is a world of possibilities.”

“The reason these (NASA Ambassador) programs exist is about generating excitement in the community from within the community,” Amy told West View,  “We are not science professionals. I used to work at Clark Planetarium, but I am not a scientist. I’m a Public Relations professional. My role with this OSIRIS-Rex program is to make it digestible – connecting the community to something they understand about science and wanting to be part of it too. This program does not exist without the people of the United States of America!”

Ms. Oliver is doing her first OSIRIS-Rex presentation in January, with more to follow over the next five years. Ms. Oliver gives explicit credit to her experience as NASA Ambassador in gaining her current job, and praises NASA for augmenting her work at Clark Planetarium.

NASA Ambassadors are a free resource for schools and teachers, libraries, museums, and other public organizations. NASA is also seeking more trained volunteers. To see the nationwide Directory of NASA Ambassadors, go to  -- https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/ssa/directory.cfm  You may read more about this program in general at https://solarsystem.jpl.nasa.gov/ssa/home.cfm or just start at nasa.gov.