Our mission to find the next Nat Geo Explorer in Asia!

01. Our Story with National Geographic Live !

Behind every great National Geographic story is a storyteller who travels to the wildest places on earth to bring home epic tales of adventure and discovery. There’re also NASA engineer who tell stories about space exploration.

“Imagine if you could meet Nat Geo explorers face to face?”

National Geographic Live is the live events division of the National Geographic Society, featuring live concerts, films, and dynamic presentations by today’s leading explorers, scientists, filmmakers and photographers — covering a wide range of topics including exploration and adventure, wildlife and habitat conservation, natural phenomena and relevant issues such as climate change. Proceeds from speaker series ticket sales help fund future National Geographic initiatives in field research, exploration and education.

It has been 2 years that we are helping to bring the National Geographic Live series to Asia for the first time ever. Once in Singapore, the explorers are giving inspirational talks about their assignments and discoveries.

This year, we had to honour to bring:

  • Steve Winter — a world renowned big cats photographer who talked at Esplanade Concert Hall on Aug 25th in front of more than 1,700 people.
  • Kobie Boykins — a NASA engineer working at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) who gave several talks at Nanyang Technological University. (Below is more information about the explorer).

“National Geographic Society aims to “to inspire people to care about the planet.” That’s a vision shared by us at Gone Adventurin’.” Ashwin Subramaniam — Gone Adventurin’, Co-founder

As a young social enterprise it’s an honour for us to work with such an iconic brand and enable them to inspire people across Asia. We feel that the message of caring about the planet has never been more important.

As the official on-ground partner, we have secured partnerships with Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) — a leading University in Asia and Quotient TravelPlanner— a travel agent that focuses some of its offer on ecotourism. It’s wonderful to be working with local companies and universities, which we feel will play a big part in our systemic approach to tackling environmental challenges.

The event series is well aligned to our focus on using film and media to engage various segments of society through our projects. Images and stories are one of the most important ways to engage audiences emotionally and drive behaviour change.

Our dream is that as the series grows across Asia, we will see more young explorers coming from Asia who will work together to create collaborative inspiring solutions for this planet’s pressing challenges.

02. The NASA engineer and Nat Geo explorer we brought to Singaporean audience

Not only Kobie Boykins is an incredible engineer who participated in several missions that sent rovers onto Mars, but he’s also a showman and very funny!

Kobie Boykins: NASA Engineer and Nat Geo Live Explorer

To give you a little bit of a background, Kobie is a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He is on the front lines of the exploration of Mars. His work in designing components for Martian rovers has led to the rovers Spirit and Opportunity exploring the surface of the red planet long beyond their designed lifetimes.

Sending an exploratory vehicle into a cold, radiated alien wasteland far from human civilisation is no easy task.

Especially when the general idea to wrap fragile cameras, sensors, and transmitters on wheels in thick inflatable bubble wrap, and throw it really, really hard towards a spot in space 56 million kilometres away.

However, in an incredible feat of engineering, Kobie Boykins and his team at NASA have managed to do just that, landing not just one, but three functioning rovers onto Mars since 2004.

For these 11 years, the rovers have been providing valuable information by mapping Mars’ terrain, collecting rock samples, discovering water, and running tests on the Martian air and soil like any good geologist should — except in this case the geologists are sitting one planet away controlling the rovers remotely.

It is no wonder that the Nanyang Auditorium was packed to the brim with students interested to learn more about working at NASA and engineering possibilities.

I greatly enjoyed the talk as Kobie is an engaging speaker who is visibly excited to share all he knows with the audience.

After a quick overview of the Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity rover missions, he showed videos of the different phases of the launch, and explained the controversy surrounding some pictures taken by the Mars rovers.

We saw what day-to-day life of the NASA engineers were like, dressed up in bulky white suits to prevent contamination of earth substances onto the rover, as well as gained insight on how the engineers tested the the rover landing sequence in the Ames research center, the largest wind tunnel on earth.

Kobie was also eager to share other amusing stories, such as the one where the Spirit and Opportunity rovers could have been named Beavis and Butthead, but were saved in the last minute by an inspiring essay written by a 9 year old girl.

Kobie Boykins talking at NTU, full-house, Aug 24th

My favourite story was about how his team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed to leave their mark on the surface of Mars. After being told that embossing JPL on the rover tires were forbidden, they went ahead to make tires that read J.P.L in Morse Code (. — — . — . .-..), thereby printing their name wherever it goes.

Of course, Kobie’s dream is actually to print chicken feet all over the surface of Mars, but that will be a little more difficult to disguise on the rover wheel.

After the talk, Kobie was surrounded by eager students and he took time to address the questions that they were not able to ask in the short Q&A session. He also passed around a rover wheel prototype, which several participants took photos with.

Meanwhile, NASA is proceeding with its ambitious plans to send more rovers by 2026, (even one that can return with rock samples!) and a human onto Mars by the 2030s.

All in all, it was a very informative talk that brought everyone up to speed with the latest in space engineering, and in the most engaging way possible!

Nat Geo Live’s partnership with NTU continues till 2018, so do stay tuned for upcoming talks by international photographers, scientists, and explorers!


Article co-written by Weiman Kow — Freelancer @Gone Adventurin’


and Paula Miquelis — Project Manager @Gone Adventurin’

Ashwin Subramaniam
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