Dr. Steve Zornetzer recently retired from NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley as Associate Center Director for Research and Technology. In his 20 years with NASA, he also served as Deputy Center Director, Director of Information Sciences and Technology and Acting Center Director. Since his retirement, he has served as an informal advisor to Ice911.
You can read more about Steve’s incredible experience at NASA and beyond, plus Ice911’s remarkable growth in 2018 and now 2019 here.
In an effort to get to know Steve a little more, we asked him three very BIG questions:
NASA is known for some BIG things but we don't always get to know the details. Could you share one really incredible project with us? No need to spill classified secrets (unless you want to).
Steve: One of the most incredible projects I was involved with while working with NASA was the Kepler mission. Kepler was a mission designed to find other planets orbiting around other stars (like the earth orbits around our star, the sun). When the mission first began in 2009 ( I attended the launch at Kennedy Space Center) no one knew with any certainty that there were other planets, no less earth-like planets that could potentially sustain life as we know it, orbiting around other stars. We had never seen one before. Kepler discovered nearly 5,000 planets orbiting around other stars with almost 400 of those so called, "Goldilocks" planets, that had surface conditions similar enough to our own earth that life, as we know it, could potentially exist. That means we, the people of planet earth, are probably not alone in the Universe as the only planet with living organisms! I think that's an incredible discovery!
Climate change and its devastating effects are dominating the news cycle. With your experience building NASA's Sustainability Base what do you see as small steps we can take individually to make a difference?
As individuals we can collectively make a significant impact on the amount of carbon released into our atmosphere. The first challenge is simply to take responsibility for our own actions and decisions. Drive a car with low, or even better, no emissions. Insulate your home to reduce to the need for excessive heating and cooling. Minimize the use of plastic. Put solar panels on your roof to supply carbon-free energy to your home. Recycle your grey water to use for irrigation around you home. Purchase locally-produced products, including food, to minimize the carbon put into the environment from long-haul transportation.
Each of these is a relatively small step that if embraced by enough people could have significant impact on reducing the carbon emitted into our atmosphere, thereby slowing down the acceleration of global climate change.
Lastly, what does 'unidentified flying object' mean to you?
Some folks are interested in the possibility that there are UFOs, (unidentified flying objects), perhaps space ships from alien planets, watching us on planet earth. Speaking only for myself, I certainly cannot discount that possibility, especially since now we know that there is, most likely, life on other planets far away and that we are probably not alone. That said, I personally don't believe that such space ships have observed us by entering our our atmosphere. I don't personally find the evidence for UFOs compelling enough to believe that we are actively being observed by alien space ships. I also don't believe our government is hiding anything from us regarding UFOs.