Skip to content
News News

IDA to Close Out 2021 Global Conference with Astronaut Panel

We are excited to announce that we will end our global conference – Under One Sky 2021 – with an astronaut panel featuring Ron Garan and John Grunsfeld! They will join us for a discussion with Mike Simmons (IDA Board of Directors) about their viewpoint from above and why our work on the ground to protect the night is so important. Their experience of the overview effect (a cognitive shift in awareness caused by the experience of seeing the Earth from space) enriches their unique perspectives about why people should care about light pollution. This often-overlooked form of pollution is a part of the overall environmental issues we are all facing. The Earth is fragile, but we can make progress in the right direction if we work together. The global close will be on November 13 at 10:00 PM UTC. You must be registered to attend. Learn more about Ron and John below.


About Ron Garan

Former NASA astronaut and highly decorated combat fighter Ron Garan racked up 178 days in space and more than 71 million miles in 2,842 orbits between tours on the US Space Shuttle, Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and the International Space Station. During his time in space, Ron conducted four spacewalks in support of ISS construction and maintenance. Prior to those space journeys, he lived and conducted research on the bottom of the ocean in the world’s only undersea research lab, Aquarius.  

Ron has been involved in many global mass collaboration and community science programs. He is also a serial entrepreneur and has founded multiple business enterprises/social-impact focused start-ups including Manna Energy Ltd. which is the first organization to successfully register a UN carbon credit for water treatment and has helped provide clean water to millions.  

He is the author of the critically acclaimed books, The Orbital Perspective, the just-released, Floating in Darkness – A Journey of Evolution, and the children’s book, Railroad to the Moon. 

Ron is a sought-after public speaker who has presented on the world stage at the UN, TED, the World Economic Forum, and many other global venues.

Ron is celebrated not just for his research in space but also for his humanitarian contribution to life on Earth.


About John Mace Grunsfeld 

John M. Grunsfeld is an astronaut and scientist with extensive experience as a leader in space and science missions, and national space policy. He has served as a  NASA astronaut, the Associate Administrator for  Science, and Chief Scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. His responsibilities included a  $7B/year portfolio of Earth Science, Astrophysics, Planetary Science, Heliophysics, the James Webb  Space Telescope, and the NOAA weather satellite program. Previously he served as the Deputy  Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, managing the science program for the  Hubble Space Telescope and the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope. Grunsfeld’s scientific research is in planetary science and the emerging field of exoplanet studies with specific interest in future astronomical instrumentation, and the search for life beyond Earth. Grunsfeld is also an avid explorer, enjoying mountaineering, bicycling, sailing, and flying small aircraft.  

Grunsfeld joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1992. He is a veteran of five space shuttle flights, (STS-67,  STS-81, STS-103, STS-109, and STS-125) of which three flights were to the Hubble Space Telescope. He performed eight spacewalks to service and upgrade the Hubble observatory. He has logged more than  58 days in space on his shuttle missions, including 58 hours and 30 minutes of spacewalk time. In 2004- 2005, he served as the commander and science officer on the backup crew for Expedition 13 to the  International Space Station. 

In 2015 Grunsfeld was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame and is a Fellow of the American Astronomical Society. He has received numerous awards including the National Space Trophy, the  NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Leadership Medal, and the AIAA Education  Award. 

Dr. Grunsfeld graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in physics. He earned a master’s degree and, in 1988, a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago. From Chicago, he joined the faculty of the California Institute of Technology as a Senior  Research Fellow in Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy. After his astronaut career, he was appointed a Professor of Physics at the Johns Hopkins University in 2010. 

His experience and skill in leading NASA science, developing plans and architectures for future programs, systems engineering skills, as a STEM education pathfinder, extensive experience in human spaceflight, and international affairs, make him unique in the world (and off) as a national leader and strategist.




Registration for Under One Sky 2021 is free, but required in advance. Please register today. We look forward to seeing you there!