Thought Leader Series

Ignite your curiosity and grow your passion for space and science at our monthly Thought Leader Series. The best and brightest minds examine the significance of historic missions, share the latest news in space exploration and look ahead to the future of space travel. This immersive series takes guests beyond our walls to provide inspiring, engaging and educational learning experiences.

Upcoming Thought Leader Series presentation

Exploring the Mars Perseverance Rover
Jan. 28 | 6 p.m. CT

In our January Thought Leader Series, presented by The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), a panel of experts will discuss NASA’s Perseverance Rover scheduled to land on Mars Feb. 18.

During this unique time, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our community. To continue our commitment to bring dynamic science learning experiences to the public, please join the January Thought Leader Series virtually at 6 p.m. CT Jan. 28. The presentation will be available on this webpage and our YouTube channel. Be part of our virtual Thought Leader Series presentation by submitting your questions to questions@spacecenter.org by 5 p.m. CT Jan. 25.

About the rover

The Mars 2020 rover, Perseverance, is based on the Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover configuration. It is car-sized, about 10 feet (3 meters) long, not including the arm, 9 feet (2.7 meters) wide, and 7 feet (2.2 meters) tall. But at 2,260 pounds (1,025 kilograms), it weighs less than a compact car. In some sense, the rover parts are similar to what any living creature would need to keep it "alive" and able to explore. Perseverance launched on July 30, 2020 on an Atlas V-541 rocket from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. It is scheduled to land on Mars on Feb. 18.

About the panel

Panelists include Kim Steadman, Dr. Sarah Milkovich, and Dr. Farah Alibay.

Steadman is a spacecraft systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech. In her over 16 years at JPL, she has worked on several different projects including X2000, Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover.

Milkovich is a science systems engineer at JPL. She received her Bachelor of Science in Planetary Science from California Institute of Technology and her Master’s degree and Ph.D. in planetary geology from Brown University. She has experience with science planning and operations for landed and orbital spacecraft, as well as geomorphology and planetary science research. Milkovich has worked as an investigation scientist on the High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, as well as the Ultraviolent Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) on the Cassini spacecraft.

Alibay is a systems engineer at JPL. She received her Bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and her Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, all in in aerospace, aeronautical, and astronautical engineering. As a systems engineer, Alibay helps design the initial spacecraft by helping the different subsystem experts (e.g.: thermal, telecommunications, power) collaborate while keeping within the launch vehicle and spacecraft capability. She has served as a payload systems engineering on the InSight Mars lander and she worked on a solar mission to Saturn aiming to look for life at Saturn’s Moon Enceladus.

Be part of our virtual Thought Leader Series presentation by submitting your questions to questions@spacecenter.org by 5 p.m. CT Jan. 25.

Past Thought Leader Series presentations

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Illuminating Space

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Illuminating Space

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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - International Cooperation in Space: ISS 20

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – International Cooperation in Space: ISS 20

During this unique time, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our community. That’s why we ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Our Future on Mars

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Our Future on Mars

During this unique time, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our community. That’s why we ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Growing Organs in Space

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Growing Organs in Space

Though Space Center Houston theaters are temporarily closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Earth from Above: Explaining the Overview Effect

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Earth from Above: Explaining the Overview Effect

Though Space Center Houston theaters are temporarily closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Space Tourism For All: Overcoming Challenges

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Space Tourism For All: Overcoming Challenges

Though Space Center Houston theaters are temporarily closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Human Robotic Interaction

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Human Robotic Interaction

Though Space Center Houston is closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our community. That’s ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Astronaut Selection and Training Process

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Astronaut Selection and Training Process

Though Space Center Houston is closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our community. That’s ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Evidence of Human Presence on the International Space Station

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Evidence of Human Presence on the International Space Station

Though Space Center Houston is closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our community. That’s ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Designing for Human Performance

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Designing for Human Performance

It takes time and intense collaboration to design and build a safe, efficient and productive spacecraft. Learn how human factors ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Challenges of Building the Space Station

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Challenges of Building the Space Station

Explore the challenges of building the International Space Station (ISS) from retired NASA astronauts Scott Parazynski and Mike Foreman in ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - How the Space Station shapes research, exploration and international cooperation

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – How the Space Station shapes research, exploration and international cooperation

Explore the International Space Station with industry experts Kirk Shireman, Mark Mulqueen, TJ Creamer, and Tamara Cougar in the this ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Lessons from Apollo 12

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Lessons from Apollo 12

The Apollo 11 mission made history. But it didn’t mark the end of NASA’s work. Less than five months after ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Astronauts from Around the World

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Astronauts from Around the World

Space is a truly international endeavor. In this Oct. 16 installment of our ongoing Thought Leader Series, presented by the ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - The Future of Spaceflight

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – The Future of Spaceflight

The future of spaceflight will be here sooner than you think. NASA’s plans currently have humans traveling back to the ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Inside Mission Control with Current Flight Controllers

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Inside Mission Control with Current Flight Controllers

What is it like to sit at the helm of human spaceflight and work with a variety of highly-trained teams ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Cognition Here and Beyond

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Cognition Here and Beyond

Watch the May 3 installment of our ongoing Thought Leader Series. Titled Cognition Here and Beyond, a panel discusses autism ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Apollo 10 with astronaut Tom Stafford

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Apollo 10 with astronaut Tom Stafford

Apollo 10 set the stage for Neil Armstrong’s historic steps on the Moon. It did so with a bit of ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Life Beyond Earth in Space and Time

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Life Beyond Earth in Space and Time

Water. Energy. Organics. Is there life on other planets? Those three things could help NASA answer that question. NASA chief ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Applications of lessons learned from human space flight tragedies

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Applications of lessons learned from human space flight tragedies

Space exploration takes courage, tenacity and innovation. Tragically, it also claimed the lives of 17 brave souls in the Apollo ...
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ISS

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – International Space Station

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 25, 1984, President Ronald Reagan directed NASA to build an international ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - An Evening With Glynn Lunney

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – An Evening With Glynn Lunney

In the Nov. 15, 2019 installment of our Thought Leader Series, the center hosted a special evening with Apollo flight ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - STS-95: John Glenn’s Second Spaceflight

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – STS-95: John Glenn’s Second Spaceflight

Space Center Houston brought in experts from the space shuttle mission STS-95 to discuss the anniversary of John Glenn’s second ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Apollo, The Golden Age of Spaceflight

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Apollo, The Golden Age of Spaceflight

Walt Cunningham, an astronaut from the first crewed Apollo spaceflight, shares his unique perspective on a remarkable era of exploration, ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - NASA Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – NASA Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer

NASA Johnson Space Center employs nearly 10,000 people and covers nearly 1,700 acres. Running JSC is a big job. Luckily, ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Leading Women of NASA

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Leading Women of NASA

From hidden figures to leading lights, these women are shaping the future of space exploration. This Aug. 24, 2018 installment ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Pioneers of Space Exploration

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Pioneers of Space Exploration

Forty years ago NASA recruited its first six women astronauts. Three of those trailblazers share their mission memories in this ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Alan Stern and David Grinspoon discuss the New Horizons mission

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Alan Stern and David Grinspoon discuss the New Horizons mission

In 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft made interplanetary-travel history by taking the first up-close photos of Pluto. Dr. Alan Stern ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - ESA Director General Johann Woerner

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – ESA Director General Johann Woerner

How are NASA and the European Space Agency working together? Learn all about this partnership and more in this April, ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - A Conversation with Apollo 13 Astronaut Fred Haise

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – A Conversation with Apollo 13 Astronaut Fred Haise

In this March 16, 2018 installment of our ongoing Thought Leader Series, Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise discusses that fateful ...
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