Transcript of Webcast:
>> Good morning and welcome to our fall 2008 NASA Quest
Our topic this fall is titled exploration through navigation, voyages
across space and this is part one of the challenge focusing on
charting the course at sea.
So today we're going to talk to you about how ancient Polynesians
charted their course at sea before we had modern techniques such
as a global positioning system or compass.
The purpose of our webcast today is to introduce you to some of
these methods and the format we'll follow we'll tell you about
the NASA LCROSS mission and we'll have our resident navigator from
Hilo, Hawaii of methods he's used at sea and we'll open it up to
a Q and A session for you to ask questions to help you in this
So the challenge as the webcast goes on we want you to submit your
Linda will be fielding those and we'll begin asking the experts
questions and getting answers for you.
I want to begin by opening up to the LCROSS mission itself.
Today we have Brian Day with us.
He's the education and public outreach lead for the LCROSS mission
and he's coming to us from Ames in Moffet Field, California and
he'll tell you about that mission and how it connects into the
challenge we're starting this fall.
>> Thank you very much, Rebecca.
First -- this is one of several quest challenges involved with
the LCROSS mission and if we could switch to our slides now.
LCROSS stands for lunar crater sensing satellite and this is one
of our next missions to the Moon.
The purpose of the LCROSS mission is to look for deposits of water
ice on the Moon.
Water ice will be a very important resource for people when they
end up living on the Moon.
That's the exciting thing.
We're planning to have people living on the Moon in one of our
first lunar outposts probably sometime in the 20 20s.
There are permanently shadowed craters at the poles of the Moon.
Craters where the sunlight never shines on the floor of that crater.
It's been very dark and cold in those craters for billions of years.
We think that's a great place where water ice could possibly have
The LCROSS mission is going to look for that water ice with a two-part
The first part is the centaur upper stage of our Moon rocket.
A great big upper stage is a massive two tons and it's the rocket
that takes out out of Earth orbit and sends us to the Moon and
we'll use it later on as an impactor to excavate one of those craters
and dig up and see if there is, in fact, any water ice there.
Other component is the shepherding spacecraft and that's what will
guide and target the centaur toward that crater and it carries
the instruments on board to measure the material that we excavate
from the crater and see if there is any water ice there.
The LCROSS spacecraft will launch along with another spacecraft
called LRO, the lunar reconnaissance orbiter in 2009.
They'll launch together on a single Atlas five rocket out of cape
Shortly after reaching Earth's orbit we'll go out of Earth orbit
toward the Moon.
Just a couple hours after launch LRO, the lunar reconnaissance
orbiter will separate and continue on its own mission to the Moon.
LCROSS will remain attached to the centaur upper stage and five
days after we launch, we'll do a swing-by of the Moon and use the
Moon's gravity to swing us into a very highly inclined orbit around
the entire Earth/Moon system.
We'll spend a few months doing this.
These great big looping orbits.
The idea being that when we meet up with the Moon again, we'll
do so coming in at a very steep angle relative to the Moon's pole.
About nine hours before we get to the Moon, we will separate from
the centaur upper stage and pull away from it so that we're following
about four minutes behind it.
So our little robotic L-cross spacecraft will be following four
minutes behind the centaur upstage.
The centaur with a mass of two tons will hit the floor of one of
those permanently shadowed craters at 5600 miles-per-hour.
Faster than a speeding bullet.
Creating a huge plume of debris.
We'll observe that impact from the instruments on board the LCROSS
It will have a bird's eye view and in the next four minutes it
will descend through the plume of debris and sampling it and letting
us know if there is water ice and if so, how much.
The plume created by the centaur as well as the plume created by
the shepherding spacecraft when it impacts will be observed from
great observatories on the surface on the Earth such as those in
Hawaii, from the Hubble space telescope in orbit around the Earth
and spacecraft like the lunar reconnaissance orbiter in orbit around
But a big question that is involved here and one that we're going
to be talking to you folks about, is how do we get from the Earth
to the Moon?
Navigation has been a challenge that humans have faced for many
Now, when we leave the realm of the Earth, things like magnetic
compasses and GPSs don't work anymore.
So navigation becomes a really interesting problem.
Now, this is not a new problem that we're facing.
As a matter of fact, humans have faced this for centuries and have
become very, very good navigators going across the Pacific ocean
without the benefit of magnetic compasses and GPSs.
They've had some very innovative techniques and you'll be learning
about those more in this challenge.
>> Well thank you, Brian.
>> Thank you.
>> That gives you a connection to the NASA mission how it's
connected to this challenge.
We're going to transition here in a moment to the Polynesian voyaging
aspect of the challenge.
First I want to direct you to our educator guide.
Hopefully those of you who have registered are already going through
this guide and using it as a tool to help you learn about the different
techniques and today Kalepa will be focusing on some of the techniques
in the guide.
This is a nice resource for you the teacher to use as you and your
students go through the challenge together.
Next I'll introduce Kalepa Baybayan coming to us from Hilo, Hawaii.
His biois online so check the quest website and learn more about
We'll let him tell us about himself in the Hawaiian language and
we'll talk about some of the techniques that he as a navigator
has used to voyage the Pacific ocean.
>> Aloha, welcome from Hawaii.
The word aloha is made up of two parts.
One ALO means the space in front of a person's body which HA means
To stand in each other's presence and share the most sacred part
of what we see the person's being to be, which is his life force
which is expressed through his breath.
I have been a navigator with the Polynesian can ues stationed in
I started when I was 13 years old learning and I am the resident
navigator at the Astronomy Center in Hawaii.
We have a canoe named guiding star.
There are five large voyaging canoes in Hawaii.
What makes ours different is we deliver our programs in the medium
of the Hawaiian language, so welcome.
Rebecca if you're ready we can start to move into some of the questions
as to why our Polynesian ancestors moved out into the Pacific.
>> Yes, go ahead and tell us what was the motivation behind
their exploration and why they decided to voyage out into the Pacific
ocean and find there were islands out there and the cultural reasons
Why don't we just move ahead into the slide show and I'll just
cue you up when we need to change slides.
So let's move into our first picture.
The next slide.
So when you look at these islands in the south Pacific, they're
There needs to be a really large question as to understanding what
factors motivate people not just to want to find these islands
but why would you want to sail away from them.
Early researchers argue that the reason why Polynesians moved from
island to island was famine, maybe overpopulation, drought, warfare
where the losers would have to leave the islands but as researchers
have -- as they began to explore that question about motivations
for people leaving islands, they found that these arguments weren't
We know that through archeology at the times that Polynesians were
oshianic people in the south Pacific was moving across the Pacific
We can advance the slide, please.
We know there really wasn't a large population densities to support
the theory of famine or drought or warfare and we know that they
moved across the Pacific in these highly capable canoes that they
made of resources that they were able to find on their own islands
to create these really sea worthy craft.
Next slide, please.
Archeology today tells us that ocean moved from west to east.
The prevailing trade winds blows from east to west.
Archaeologists tell us it was settled from Indonesia, Taiwan and
moved into the face of the prevailing trade wind.
The question is how and why did they do this?
We know that at the time that the ocean levels were really -- during
the ice age when there wasn't -- there was much larger land bridges
that people originally migrated into the western part of Indonesia.
When the sea levels rose again there was a period of 40,000 years
of isolation and when the ocean people pushed back into the ocean
one of the principal trades they were the sea faring farming traders
and used their seafaring skills to trade tools between the islands.
The winds go from east to west but they go through yearly wind
reversals and so they would wait for the wind reversals to occur
which would allow them to sail with the wind eastward.
They kept sailing and exploring out of curiosity like the human
population exploring are curious people.
They got to an island that was into the area of the prevailing
trade wind and found it wasn't inhabited and they knew that if
they kept sailing upwind, they would keep on finding more and more
islands that were uninhabited.
Next slide, please.
But probably the most compelling reason was for oceanic people
The oldest sibling of the lot would get the inheritance of the
land and rights of the clan.
The younger siblings, if they wanted ownership of property or control
of the clan the only way they could do that was to go out and sail
and find their own islands which would allow them to acquire their
And lastly the last slide here in our understanding the reasons
why is that we know these people were -- sailed extensively and
they've done it in the canoes that they found on the islands made
out of their own resources but captain cook when he arrived in
Hawaii in 1778, when the 3,000 canoes surrounded his ships, he
listened to the language and having sailed across the Pacific and
met islanders in the south Pacific he wrote in his log book these
islanders here speak the same language as the people in Tahiti
and he asked the very large question as to how could these islands
have come to be settled by a people who spoke the same language
and he recognized back then that these are great explorers but
it posed a large question as to how they did this.
And that's our idea of why.
>> Thank you, Kalepa, now we understand why these people
were exploring the ocean, the vast ocean at that, we need to understand
what tools they used.
We know that centuries ago they didn't have a magnetic compass,
they didn't have a global positioning system like we do in modern
What kind of tools did these explorers use to navigate the seas,
which are so much different than navigating on land.
>> Well, you know, they -- the question of what, let's look
at how they first built these canoes and let's bring the camera
back to me.
Next slide, please.
And again as I alluded to, these people were greater planners and
strategists in the art of voyaging.
They not only built their canoes out of the tools made of stone
and shell, but they also had to outfit these canoes with the plants
that they would need to survive or food they would need to survive
on the ocean as well as the paths they would need for eventual
And then they had to train a crew to get out there and navigate.
Let's come back and talk about how they armed themselves and let
me explain to you how I learned to navigate.
Their experience, these Polynesian settlers, was based upon their
experience in life and what they were learning as they grew up
on these islands.
Now, my teacher taught me that he said you have to look at the
You have to look at the bird.
The bird, you know, as he flies throughout the horizon, maybe bring
the -- switch camera to me, please.
Off the slide.
>> I believe what -- we can see you on our video.
So the bird as he flies out into the ocean his head the pointing
towards where he needs to go but then if you look at -- if you
look at his tail also points in another direction and his wings
make a right angle to the horizon, yeah?
So this bird constantly has an orientation toward the horizon and
he flies and he's never lost when he's flying on the ocean.
He's always oriented to the horizon.
Now, what we do as navigators we see this bird and the canoe we
sail on as being the same thing.
That the bow of the canoe points in a direction and the bow of
the canoe points in one direction.
The stern of the canoe points 180 degrees away from the head.
The wings of the bird or the canoe point 90 degrees away and if
you can align the bow of the canoe with a certain celestial body
that you're saying towards you can orientate your canoe or bird
but you don't need to see a celestial body that's ahead of the
You can use one that's at the tail or the stern of the canoe or
on either wing or between the wing and the head or between the
wing and the tail.
As long as you understand the relationship between the bird or
the canoe and the different celestial bodies that surround the
Our compass we used to orient the canoe memorizes the rising and
setting points of 110 different stars and with that, that understanding
of knowing where these stars rise or set on the horizon creates
this very accurate compass that allows us to sail our canoe pretty
accurately and that's a skill that's both based on the tradition
of the navigators of creating this as well as our understanding
today as well as how astronomy works and how celestial bodies rise
in the east, move across the sky and set in the west.
These different points where we see stars rising on the horizon,
we call houses in our system of navigation that a star rises in
a certain house and set in the same house on the western side of
And that's basically the core concept to our -- the way our navigation
If we can go advance the slide.
Again so once these people built their canoes and outfitted it
with the food that they would need for survival on these distant
Again they would have to take plants for their survival on these
distant islands which came in the form of seeds, roots or cuttings
and lastly they would have to -- next slide.
They would have to train a crew and then get out there and make
So Kalepa, if we understand they could use the canoe as the tool,
as well as the rising and setting of the stars and the Sun and
the Moon, then what other aspects of navigation did they use
on their voyage?
How did they actually sail the seas and what time of year?
We can go back to the slide and we'll answer your question about
what and when.
Next slide, please.
Again, our concept then that we use, the grounding concept is this
star compass because it allows us to orient ourselves.
Let's look at that practice and answer what kind of techniques
do we use to navigate and when was the most appropriate time for
Next slide, please.
Again, to just go back to the celestial bodies rise in the east
and set in the west.
Now, once we leave shore, we begin -- the navigation begins.
You only know where you are on the ocean by memorizing.
There cannot be any period in a voyage when you don't have an estimate
as to where you are because if you don't have an estimate as to
where you are, if you're not memorizing each and every day the
direction you're sailing in and how far along in that direction
you've gone, you really don't know where you are.
Navigation starts from the time we leave the dock and pull anchor
and we begin sailing.
We know that we navigate 24 hours a day, seven days a week until
we find a land clue.
Now during the day we use our daytime star.
We know it as the Sun, right?
It rises in the east.
As the Sun is rising the navigator looks toward the distant horizon
and he knows where on his compass the Sun is rising and then he
begins to synthesize what he's visually seeing.
He looks at where is the big swells coming from in relationship
to where the Sun is rising.
He has the Sun to give him a clue during the day and the swells.
Where is the wind coming from in terms of its relationship to the
Sun and the swell and then how is he feeling that wind as it crosses
over the canoe?
And then lastly as that canoe climbs over the swell, the swells
are coming at a regular pattern creating a certain feel.
A certain rise and roll of the canoe that the navigator needs to
That rhythm becomes a clue to ensuring that the canoe is on course
and then, of course, once the Sun sets and the stars come out it
brings out the best -- the best time to navigate, which is at night.
Given that you have a clear sky.
Next slide, please.
Our strategy really at night is to have a certain set of navigation
starts that we'll use for our trip.
And as -- I say we use 110 stars but quite frankly on a trip you
may use a fourth of that.
And remember that although a trip is 30 days, once you leave and
you're out on the ocean on your first night you'll use the same
set of stars the next evening so the crew members get into the
comfortable rhythm of following certain stars that they would steer
along throughout the night.
Lastly when we start getting close to where -- we use the height
or altitude of different stars as they cross -- as they rise and
cross over the Meridian.
That being the line that runs north to south.
When it reaches that top of the -- when it gets to the Meridian
we measure different stars that we use to determine latitude and
we do that by using our hand.
We precalibrate our hands before we leave on a trip so our hands
become these very accurate human body section.
And then lastly, next slide, please.
Again, the best season to sail in really is what -- as the navigator,
whether you sail between Hawaii or Tahiti, you need to identify
when are the seasons of bad weather, when are typhoons or hurricanes.
What makes it more difficult sailing between Hawaii and places
to the south like Tahiti is that you are crossing between two hemispheres,
the north and southern hemisphere so you have different hurricane
So you have to find the time period or the time frame on a global
cycle where you can slide between the two hurricane seasons.
When we sail toward the south Pacific we usually want to leave
Hawaii at the earliest would be the beginning of February, not
later than the beginning of March.
And then we want to return to Hawaii in May or June before hurricane
season kicks in during the month of July.
So that would be the time to sail south.
And then lastly, understanding all these things, next slide, you
need to get out there and attempt a journey such as we've done
for the past 30 years.
It is only through the practice of actually being out there in
a very dynamic environment and applying these lessons of navigation
that you really are able to expand upon your base of knowledge
and it gives you extreme confidence.
Once you've executed a plan based upon the way you prepare it and
you see that you get positive results and quite frankly with the
way we train and the way we've prepared, we've been able to, next
slide, we've been able to make every landfall that we've set out
to -- again, as you sail south, the stars will tell you when you
start getting close to land and then you start looking for the
land clues that will lead you to land.
You'll see seaweed when you get close but the real definitive clue
that leads you to land is these white turns that migrate back and
forth to the island every day.
When you see three or four of them you know you ought to be within
a 24-hour range of land.
Again, you know, if you are sailing between Hawaii and take --
Tahiti it will take you three to four weeks.
The stars change.
The southern sky gets higher, the northern sky gets below the horizon
and when you get close to land you begin looking for the land clues,
the birds and seaweed.
Once you find land, really the navigation is over.
Although what we're looking for in the south Pacific are the bands
of small islands that screen the bigger islands of Tahiti located
240 miles north.
If you're successful at doing that, then like we were when we first
voyageed in 1976, you get a happy arrival of a lot of new friends
down in the south Pacific.
>> Thank you, Kalepa, that's wonderful.
Now that we understand some of the tools that you use and how a
voyage is planned, can you tell us why these methods continue
to be used if we have modern-day methods today, then why do the
Hawaiian people and the Polynesian people continue to study the
ancient methods and put them into practice?
What's the benefit of the application we can use in the modern
>> That's a very -- it's a question that needs a lot of
Personally for me because this is a cultural practice that really
pointed to a human being's capacity to accomplish things in life,
I was naturally compelled to take part in this kind of learning
because it takes place in a very dynamic environment.
It gets me to apply decision-making skills.
It allows me to make connections between culture and science to
bring relevance into my life today.
In Hawaii and the south Pacific there has been a resurgence of
I think -- I think the reason why is such -- it's grown so rapidly
here in Hawaii and the South Pacific is because it takes us back
to a period when our ancestors were participating or taking part
in something that we're participating in today.
It allows us to really sail down the same sea lanes, sea roads
as our ancestors and allows us to connect to the same raw emotions
that they felt.
And more than that, it allows us to understand our place in this
world today and make connections to the academic sciences that
enable us to become better navigators and again I would like to
point out the fact that we've always made every single landfall
that we've intended to sail towards and that's based upon our understanding
of the tradition of oceanic navigation that is merged and married
Academia, the sciencess of astronomy, ocean on graphy and meteorology
and made it very concrete and tangible and we know it works because
we've participated in these many voyages and we've had real positive,
successful results and there is quite a following here in Hawaii.
Thousands of people that have sailed aboard these canoes and taken
part in the voyages.
Everybody that does after they get off a canoe they walk away from
that experience a lot better person because they understand --
it is not just about -- it's about being on a deck of a canoe as
this focused community and accomplishing something together as
a group of people.
So these are really, I think, my reasons why I did it and it's
real important for people in Hawaii and the South Pacific and why
we continue to participate and build more canoes and create programs
or ways of learning that take people into these dynamic environments
on the ocean.
>> Thank you, Kalepa.
We're going to transition now to our Q and A session.
We have Linda joining us here over on the sidelines and she's fielding
So let's see, Linda, do we have any questions so far for Kalepa?
>> We sure do.
We have good questions and it shows that some students are already
doing the work of trying to chart their own trips for this challenge.
We have a question here from Seana and she asks what direction
does the wind blow off of Hawaii?
>> You know, the winds basically come from an easterly direction
from where the Sun rises and moves across into the direction where
the Sun sets.
Generally it moves from east/northeast direction.
If you were to go out while the Sun is south of the equator now
so you stretch your hand from where the Sun rose and maybe a hand
and a half from where the Sun rose, that's the direction the wind
blows from in Hawaii.
It's pretty consistent.
It will move a few degrees north or south of that direction but
it generally the pattern is it blows in the direction from where
the Sun rose in the summer, yeah.
We have a question here from Dillon in Georgia.
He asks, how old were you when you first became interested in Polynesian
>> Well, you know, as a young child we have a very big history
of how our islands are sailed and children grow up for those stories
At the time I was graduating from high school, our first voyaging
canoe which would attempt a voyage and sailed to Maui, the island
I grew up on and parked in front of my home.
Once I saw that out there resting at bay, you know, that was like
the match that started my internal fire and I just -- I was just
very fortunate to be born in a time when this was occurring and
it really -- at that time it really -- I didn't see the -- I didn't
understand what the future was going to be in my life or the life
of that canoe but it has given me a direction that I wanted to
move in and I was very fortunate to be living in a time when that
occurred and 30 years now I've been practicing this art of navigating
We have a question here from Haley.
What happens during many nights with clouds and no stars?
>> That is a really good question.
I get asked that.
I find that if you ask the question to really young children, I
get asked this question but adults, too.
What do you do if the night is cloudy or has been cloudy for several
What do you do if you're lost out in -- what's the safest thing
If you don't know what direction to return in to get yourself back
on track you stop, you know?
You have to stop, close your sails and you have to wait until the
clues come back.
Because if you just keep on sailing blindly, all you are doing
is getting yourself more lost.
Remember when I said you only know where you are by memorizing
each and every second where you've gone.
That's the only way you can determine where you're at.
So if you're in a situation where you've been calm and it's overcast
and there is no clues, then you wait.
You wait until the clues come back.
>> We actually had a question on how do you then continue
to navigate during the day?
>> Well, you know, if it's cloudy and you really -- and
there are no signs during the day because it's overcast and you
can't see the Sun, then you would wait until it did clear and you
saw the Sun.
But remember that during the day I talked about the many different
clues that you use, the Sun, the swell and the winds.
You can keep on sailing even if it's cloudy at night if those other
clues like the swell and the feel of the canoe remains constant.
Those are clues you can sail on to keep guiding your canoe.
But if it goes absolutely black at night and the ocean is flat
and confused and the winds are switching around then you would
stop and wait until you got some definitive clue that you could
rely upon to get your canoe sailing again in the direction you
choose to go as opposed to just wandering aimlessly in the ocean.
It is a logical progression.
Any student out there viewing this would probably have the same
answers that a navigator would have just based upon logical progressive
I have a question here from Thailand.
They are asking how do you find your guiding stars?
>> A lot of this is done beforehand in that when we're planning
We've chosen a season.
Today astronomy or astronomy tools allows us to understand what
stars are going to be present during the season we're going to
So for whatever season or month we're going to be navigating in,
we'll look at where the Sun is actually rising on the horizon,
at what's its destination it's rising in.
We create charts of information as to the stars we want to use
and where it's rising on the horizon and then we've memorized this
We have -- we're going to -- we look at the stars so the crew members
get oriented and we go out into the real sky and practice star
There are a number of tools out there through technology and science
that allows us to get prepared and determine what stars we're going
to navigate by.
Another question here somebody is working on their projects already.
Can you further explain what you mean when you say pre-calibrate
This comes from Georgia as well from Dillon.
You need to take -- your hand needs to become a measuring tool.
You need to figure out how many degrees one hand span makes.
If I hold my hand extend it out how many degrees is it from my
thumb to the top of my finger here?
That's one way to calibrate it.
Another way to is to turn your hand sideways and use your hand
so the bottom finger is on the horizon and how many degrees is
it between each finger?
And we have -- one of the tools that we use, we can calibrate our
hand out in a natural environment because we can use the north
star as an example.
The north star basically sits very close to the north celestial
pole so here in Hawaii if you're on the equator, the north star
is on the horizon because it is a 90 degree.
Every time we move north it moves a degree.
The north star is 20 degrees above the horizon in Hawaii.
We can calibrate our hand based upon knowing what the height of
the north star is.
That's one way.
Another way which is -- requires some math and science is that
you know what a survey tool is, right?
This tool that sits on a tripod where you measure degrees orange
What we did here in Hawaii was we took our survey to the mark on
the floor of a room and we set this tool over it and we measured
50 feet away on a horizontal line and we measured 1 degree arcs
up to 25 degrees.
We stuck the horizontal line and turned it vertical.
What that did is create the skill of one degree increments and
then we would remove the sexton away.
We measured our hands up against this degree mark of 15 feet away.
What that allowed us to do is calibrate our hands.
This is something that is a little more advanced but it allows
you -- it's how we calibrate the human body so that we've created
this tool using the surveying tool and then we go out in the natural
environment and watch different stars rise and as it crosses the
Meridian and low enough to the horizon we use our hands to reestablish
how accurate we've calibrated it.
I hope that helps folks out with our measurements and star that's
coming up just this week.
Actually two weeks, I believe.
We have a question here from Haley that says did the early explorers
understand the phases of the Moon?
Yeah, they did.
You know, really, people who lived in the he equatorial regions
especially the Moon was more of a factor in their daily life than
Stars could tell you what seasons was happening and what things
they should be planting but really they watched the Moon very carefully
to tell them what kinds of practices they apply to living on the
In navigation, you know, we understand the Moon cycle goes through
this 29 1/2 days orbit around the planet and we choose to use the
moons in navigation really, the full Moon comes into play because
of its ability to illuminate the horizon.
Normally when I go on a trip if I'm standing towards maybe a small
island that I'm not familiar with that might be a danger to the
canoe, I look at how many days it is going to take me to get there
based on I think about my average speed is and the average speed
of the winds in the area I'm sailing and when the full Moon occurs
and I work myself backwards.
If it takes me ten days to get to an island, I want to leave ten
days before the full Moon happens so when I sail there, when I
get into the range of the islands I can navigate safely at night
using the illumination of the Moon.
The moons are real important.
That's one way to use it, okay?
>> Super, okay.
We have several questions and I know you're very interested in
Lynn -- linguistics.
How do you say your name?
And does the mark over the A effect the word?
>> Yeah, it does.
It changes the emphasis.
My name is pronounced Kalepa.
The movement that material makes when the wind blows it like ruffling.
So my name means the ruffling sails.
That was a name given to me as a young man.
I never understood the meaning but today as a sailor for 30 years
I understand that it's a very appropriate name that my family chose
for me as a baby.
>> Sounds a bit of a predictor.
We have another question here from Thailand.
What is your biggest problem in a journey?
>> You know, voyaging -- we've been talking about how we
physically move the canoe across and guide it.
We have to understand this is a community of people that are sailing
together so the larger issue is how do you get people in a social
setting on a very small canoe to work together?
So you have a process of choosing people that understand and are
committed to a common vision and mission.
That's real important and probably the most compelling thing.
My job isn't just to navigate the canoe to get the canoe physically
there but to get this community of people to our destination and
get them at the very, very end of the process to feel really good
about the experience that they've invested their lives into and
that's the -- there is no great secret there but it's over -- my
years of -- that goes back to how you're brought up and the fact
that the way we had a good family upbringing that allows me to
lead a group of people much like I was raised.
I challenge my team members usually at the beginning of the trip
we establish one big goal that we're going to work on as a group
of people and it's not about finding the island.
My big challenge was -- a lot of these guys that I sail with are
my friends and peers, what I challenge them to do is what can you
do -- what I told them was at the end of a trip I want us to be
better friends than we were when we began.
So that's the goal is to be better friends at the end of the trip.
Whatever it took in terms of human practice on the canoe to get
us to be better friends, that's what we worked on on the voyage
and it's the hardest thing to navigate on a trip is getting people
to be focused on the same goal and to be committed to making that
a very wholesome experience.
>> That's terrific.
It translates into just about any form of working together with
>> I think they have to do that when they get to the Moon.
>> How do you make the canoe or boat?
>> Today these canoes are -- most of them are made out of
a marine plywood or composite foam with layers of fiberglass and
The reason why we don't build canoes out of traditional materials
anymore there is an issue of depleting our forest resources when
we're making these large canoes and we don't have very much.
We had to make choices between taking care of environment and continuing
to learn about a culture so we've chosen modern boat building materials
and we shape these materials to the same naval architecture of
our -- canoe architecture of our an cestors so we're following
traditional design but we choose modern materials as opposed to
all natural materials because it is a matter of taking care of
I had no idea about that.
Another question here from Georgia.
Do you look for specific creatures that are native to different
parts of the sea when you're on a voyage?
>> That's a very good question.
I myself I don't -- I'm not skilled enough but one of my teachers,
who is a traditional navigator from Micronesia, he uses different
animals to mark or different pods of dolphins or turtles that
they identify living around certain islands.
They'll use those animals to mark the -- where these islands are
so we do.
There is an interesting work site if you go to Polynesian Voyaging
Society it has a link to a website the University of Pennsylvania
that speaks to all the different -- speaks to Micronesia navigation
and how to use animals and fish and different sea creatures to
mark where certain islands are.
>> Okay, great.
Shauna again here.
Since the color of the water changes depending on the distance
from land, we were wondering if the wind also affects the color
of the water.
>> You know, I don't believe that the wind does.
I'm not skilled enough -- this is my personal experience.
Clearly it's the depth of the bottom of the ocean that creates
the color that you see.
And the color, of course, would also be a clue for identifying
where land is.
Especially in the south Pacific on these islands, this ones that
have large lagoons, when you see -- when you get in close and you
know you're looking for land you can see the large clouds that
hover on the horizon especially after they've dumped a little rain
on the island they become like color sponges and suck the color
of the lagoon up into the bottom of the cloud and you see the blue
and green tints on the underside of the clouds that can lead you
I wasn't a real believer of that until I actually sailed down there
and I saw this phenomenon.
We knew the islands were there because we have so much information
available to us with maps and all that prior study and new the
islands were there.
I actually saw the blue and green clouds.
>> Okay, wow, that's great.
>> That's cool.
>> Another question here and I won't even attempt to pronounce
the name but what directions do wind and currents flow from Easter
I know these folks are working on a challenge where they're supposed
to get some of this information.
Thinking you could point them to a place to look for that information.
>> The Polynesian Voyaging Society has a website.
It has specific information as well as maps pertaining to the challenge
of Easter Island and we have very good research material that
would help you.
Just know that -- remember when I talked about the northern hemisphere
that the wind in Hawaii blows one hand span north of east?
When you go to the southern hemisphere because you cross the equator
you have the opposite effect there which is one hand spanned to
the south of east would be the direction the winds would come from.
We have here a question from WILL.
Would you say the winds are an asset or hindrance during a Polynesian
>> They're a big asset.
We can only get there if we have wind.
Our principal method of propulsion is wind.
Hawaii is 2,400 miles away from Tahiti.
No way we could paddle that distance without drinking all our water
or eating all of our food.
Winds are the principal method of propulsion.
Understand that as important as understanding the stars are to
our navigation, we wouldn't be able to attempt this voyage if we
didn't have a greater understanding of where the winds blow from
and what the natural phenomenon and the natural patterns of wind
That would be the first layer in terms of the hierarchy of knowledge
that you would need to understand.
It begins with meteorology.
That's the basis and foundation for the layers of knowledge the
navigator needs to internalize.
We have a question here from Haley asks, can you navigate the same
way from the Moon as we are getting used to here?
That's part two of the challenge, isn't it?
>> You guys can come back and give me the answer to that.
I would assume that your navigational system would rely.
I'm just guessing here.
You guys will become the experts.
Aligning your spacecraft up with certain celestial bodies to aloi
-- allow you to take a course line to get you to the Moon.
The difference between the Moon and the island is the Moon is moving.
Something is moving out there.
The planet is moving.
I would think that you need to figure out how long it is going
to take you to get to the Moon and then -- and then pick a course
line to the Moon that would intersect where the Moon is going to
be when you get there.
That's the way I would do it as a navigator.
I'd predict where the Moon is going to be.
How days to get to the Moon.
Leave the Earth's atmosphere and aim my canoe towards where I think
the Moon is going to be when I think I'm going to get there.
I don't know.
>> How does that match, Brian, to what you know about this?
Wonderful lead-in to the challenge that's going to follow this
We're going to see that there are certain common concepts to navigation.
We'll look at how humans spread across the Pacific basin.
We're going the look at these common concepts between these two
Thank you very much for an excellent question.
>> We have the -- the website up for the Polynesian Voyaging
I would invite you to look there.
A lot of really pertinent information that would help you research.
>> Thank you.
I'll think we'll take one more question and that is how long have
you been doing navigation?
What age did you begin?
>> I get asked that question all the time.
Actually because this is about creating or developing this strong
oceanic sense it begins for us here that live in the islands
when we're babies, you know, our parents take us to the ocean
and they take us down and they put us in the ocean along the
coastlines and we become comfortable in the water and as we get
older our parents will take us out and make us swim between our
mother and father, between our grandparents and so from a very
early age we're becoming comfortable with being in the ocean.
We're becoming confident which allows us, when we get older and
we take on more larger challenges in the ocean is to be comfortable
that the ocean isn't a scary place and we're not -- we're skilled
swimmers and when we get in the ocean we explore safely.
We do it from the time we're babies and later on in life we're
doing bigger challenges actually on a canoe.
>> Thank you, Kalepa.
You did an excellent job answering the questions that were received
Very interesting answers, very exciting to learn about all the
techniques that you've used yourself as a navigator in the Pacific
We want to say thank you to Kalepa you want to share any last words
with us before we depart from you?
>> Just that thank you and you can also say aloha at the
end of a conversation just like you say it at the beginning.
It means hello and it also means farewell and good tidings.
>> Well, we want to thank you from Hilo on the big island
That's where you'll be navigating from in this challenge.
Your starting point will be the big island of Hawaii and you'll
be sailing all the way to Rapa Nui in the southern hemisphere.
We want to thank the institute of astronomy at the University of
Hawaii in Hilo and Gary, who has been helping us today we want
to thank him for helping us with the broadcast.
Thank you to all of you.
Before we sign off, I want to do a few quick reminders.
A couple of things, the website that Kalepa mentioned, you can
find that address on page 21 of the educator guide so if you didn't
catch it up on the screen look in the educator guide and it's there.
It was a big source for the guide that we created.
Also just to clarify we're doing part one and part two of the challenge.
In this part one we're looking at all the ways to explore and navigate
on our own planet especially in the ocean but then in part two
which will begin in the winter of 2009 we're going to explore that
last question that was asked on how do you explore from Earth to
the Moon and the different navigation techniques needed in outer
Hopefully you'll join us for part two of the challenge which will
begin after the holidays.
We want the remind you that starting this week the -- starting
yesterday, November 2 and going through November 16 we're doing
a star tracking activity.
This is something that you'll do outside of the classroom and you'll
pick one night between the 2nd and 16th of November to go out and
look for the star Enif.
It's in our constellation Pegasus.
You can look for that.
We posted on the challenge website the instructions for how to
locate that star so you can go to that site and look for the two-page
It will give you an image of the constellation and then you can
also look at the following page and this ties in directly to what
Kalepa was telling you about using your hand as a tool.
So hopefully you'll join us on this activity.
You'll be going outside observing the night sky between the hours
of 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. and locate the star and then you'll email
us some information, what your latitude and longitude is as the
observer and then also how many degrees above the horizon Enif
was when you observed it.
We at NASA will compile all that information and post it on the
web and you can draw conclusions from that data and see how different
observers across the United States and hopefully even the world,
how they're data compares and how much does latitude of an observer
affect the degrees above the horizon that this star is during its
So we hope you'll join us for that activity.
It will be very fun and it also just illustrates how much NASA
science important are to the navigation process.
So also we have our weekly challenge questions, we had one last
week that was asking about how far out at sea can you locate the
islands of Tahiti.
We had excellent answers on this question.
We're asking you this week about the doldrums.
Hopefully you'll look up the answers and we'll look forward to
receiving those and choosing a winner for this week.
Another reminder is that on November 24th right before the Thanksgiving
holidays your navigation plans are due.
We want to have plenty of time to review those before our final
webcast in December which I believe is scheduled for December 9th.
So remember November 24th the date that we need those navigation
Hopefully you'll give us a maps and the types of images you plan
Go to the educator guide book.
We have a sample navigation plan to give you guidance although
we're leaving it very open-ended.
We don't want to box you in.
We're open to any ideas and any approaches that you may have.
We also have map there for you to use if that's helpful.
November 24th is the date to use them.
Send them in sooner if they're ready before the date.
I want to thank Brian who joined us today and gave us an overview
of the LCROSS mission and Linda over on the sidelines who fielded
all your good questions.
And we hope you continue to join us in this journey, this challenge
about navigation on our home planet and we look forward to seeing
what plans you come up with on getting you and your crew from Hawaii
to Rapa Nui.