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CCU Atheneum: Rubbo at NASA's Tweetup.
Rubbo at NASA's Tweetup.

Rubbo invited to launch of lunar spacecraft

by Amellia Diemer
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Louis Rubbo recently attended his first Tweetup.

A “Tweetup,” for the uninitiated, is a real-life meeting organized on the social networking site Twitter.

Rubbo, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Coastal Carolina University, recently attended a two-day space shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral, Fla., via NASA’s Tweetup program.  More than 800 people registered online to participate in the Tweetup, but only 150 were chosen. The event was NASA’s 25th Tweetup.

NASA invited Rubbo and subscribers of the agency’s Twitter account to a launch Tweetup Sept. 7-8. Tweetup attendees were given the rare opportunity to view the twin lunar-bound spacecraft, GRAIL, aboard a Delta II rocket.  Participants were also treated to an afternoon of talks from various renowned scientists, including NASA administrator Charles Boldin and the principle investigator of GRAIL, Maria Zuber. (Zuber is the first woman to be named scientific leader of her own NASA robotic space mission.)

While at the Kennedy Space Center, the Tweetup attendees received a VIP tour of the center. Rubbo saw the Space Shuttle Endeavor as it was being decommissioned and attended a speech by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. 

The lunar spacecraft launch was targeted for 8:37 a.m. on Sept. 8. This mission’s purpose was to gather information about the moon and provide scientists with a more complete understanding of how rocky planets are formed. Unfortunately, NASA postponed the liftoff due to rough upper-level winds that could potentially blow the rocket off course. The second launch date was scheduled early the following morning, but once again had to be delayed due to technical difficulties. By the time NASA gave the ok to launch GRAIL, Rubbo had already returned home. Though he missed the live launch, he was content to watch the liftoff with his two sons at home.

“NASA holds Tweetups on a regular basis,” says Rubbo. “Anyone with a twitter account and the ability to travel to the Tweetup can register for a chance to go.” 

Rubbo joined the CCU faculty in 2007, teaching astronomy and physics in the College of Science. He is co-author of multiple publications, including “Relativistic Effects in Extreme Mass Ratio Gravitational Wave Bursts” and “Characterizing the Galactic Gravitational Wave Background with LISA.” 

Rubbo is now working on a project concerned with colliding black holes. The project involves finding out the gravitational wave strength when two black holes orbit around each other and eventually collide. The goal is to provide simulated data for future development of data analysis.

Rubbo also heads the CCU Astronomy Club, which is open to anyone interested in astronomy. For more information, contact Rubbo at




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