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Mason Space Day 2023 offers NASA astronaut meet and greets and activities for an ‘out of this world’ experience

Space Day 2022
Participants get a better view of the stars at Space Day 2022.

The George Mason University College of Science announces headliners and agenda of activities at its second annual Mason SpaceDay on Sunday, October 22, 2023 from 3 to 9 p.m. on Mason’s Fairfax, Virginia campus.

This free, family-friendly, public event offers an exciting, collaborative, and engaging opportunity to learn about the technology and science behind some of the leading aerospace projects in the area. Last year, lectures by astronauts, tours of the observatory, and partner activities attracted close to one thousand attendees, with even more visitors expected to register and attend this fall. All ages are invited to learn about the latest in space exploration from those on the front lines and also explore space firsthand through a tour of Mason’s Observatory.

Mason Space Day 2023 will include a keynote address from the Honorable Charles F. Bolden, Jr., former head of NASA and former NASA astronaut who traveled into orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions and piloting two others.

“While scientists study the furthest corners of our galaxy, some of this work is being done in our own backyard,” said Mason Physics and Astronomy Associate Professor Peter Plavchan. “We want the community to have the opportunity to hear from these scientists and perhaps spark the curiosity of the next generation to lead the charge in space exploration.”

Another keynote speaker this year is NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientist, Michelle Thaller. Attendees will also hear from a panel of Mason experts including Computational and Data Science’s Associate Professor Anamaria Berea who recently served on a 16-person NASA appointed unidentified anomalous phenomena panel, Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Piotr Pachowics, Professors of Physics and Astronomy Erdal Yiğit and Robert Weigel, Professor of Geography and Geoinformation Science Donglian Sun, and SPEC Innovations President and Mason alum, Steven Dam.

Food trucks will be available onsite, with ample time to meet other event attendees, explore Mason’s Fairfax campus, and visit exhibitor organizations.

Want to attend Mason Space Day 2023?  Register in advance

Keynote Speakers

The Honorable Charles F. Bolden Jr.

Major General, United States Marine Corps (Ret.)
12th NASA Administrator
Founder & CEO Emeritus, The Charles F. Bolden Group

Retired Marine Corps Major General Charles Frank Bolden Jr. was the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from July 2009 until January 2017.

Bolden’s 34-year career with the Marine Corps included 14 years as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Office. After joining the office in 1980, he traveled into orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions and piloting two others. Today, in addition to his numerous professional affiliations, General Bolden serves as the Founder and CEO Emeritus of The Charles F. Bolden Group, providing leadership in the areas of Space/Aerospace Exploration, National Security, STEM+AD Education and Health Initiatives.

Charles Bolden Jr

Michelle ThallerScientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Michelle Thaller is the Assistant Director of Science at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Michelle has a Bachelor’s in astrophysics from Harvard and a PhD from Georgia State University. After a post-doctoral research fellowship at Caltech, Michelle became particularly interested in public outreach and science communication and served as the public outreach lead for the Spitzer Space Telescope at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Michelle has also worked at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on strategic communications for all of NASA. Outside of her work, Michelle is one of the regular hosts of Discovery Science Channel’s “How the Universe Works” and "Space's Deepest Secrets." Michelle also hosts the podcast “Orbital Path” on public radio. She has received several high-profile awards for online science journalism and science leadership.

Michelle Thaller

View the full list of speakers and find out all there is to do at Mason Space Day 2023