Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

June 18, 2014

Moore plays major role in space — It’s just a little over a month away from the chance to see how one Pauls Valley native, Jeff Moore. played a major role in space exploration.

Bill Moore, producer of the documentary “Oklahomans and Space,” explained that Jeff’s interview helped him finish a 14-year project. It all began with the late space exploration legend Leroy Gordon Cooper in 2000 and in one episode alone, Bill estimated that Jeff’s segment ends up being at least a third of the program in the final show.

“To The Planets and Beyond,” will air on July 22. It will talk about exploration of the solar system, and all the planets.

“This seven-part series presents the history of the space program through the stories of the Oklahomans who participated in it,” said Bill Moore.

“Astronauts, engineers, scientists, reporters and others recall those wonderful days of adventure. Each of these programs is typically an hour long, this one will be a 90 minute program.”

There is an amusing story how the Pauls Valley native was first contacted. Jeff Moore, a guy Bill worked with at Oklahoma historical society center, found the Pauls Valley based Jeff Moore while Googling his own name.

An employee for NASA with the Ames Research Center in California, Jeff has been a regular member of the Mars Rover Team, with rovers spirit and opportunity. In 1994, he was on the Ames team that retrieved images and info from the Galileo spacecraft about the Shoemaker-Levy9 comets that crashed into Jupiter.

Wynnewood native Donna Shirley will appear on this episode as well, involved with jet propulsion in California. She even worked with Jeff on the first Mars Rover mission.

Jeff talks a lot about these particular missions in the episode.

One thing that made Jeff such an enticing candidate for the program is that he ended up being the piece needed to complete the documentary. This is due to his continuing involvement as a lead scientist for NASA’s New Horizon mission.

“One thing I’ve tried to do is find a way to connect them to each planet in the solar system,” said Bill Moore. “I was about finished with my interviews... really filled a gap. I really had no Oklahomans connected to Pluto. That filled that last slot.”

Bill said Jeff’s role is significant because it marks not just an important milestone in space exploration for Pauls Valley, but the whole world.

Launched in Jan. 2006 from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, as the spacecraft passes by Pluto next year it will take some of the first pictures of the dwarf planet in decades.

“Since he’s the imaging leader, he helped design the cameras approach and encounters. He is on the team to help analyze images afterward,” said Bill Moore. “The spacecraft cameras are our eyes.”

This is important because will be the first time in history we will see Pluto and it’s moons this clearly.

“It’s an exciting moment for people in astronomy and space exploration” said Bill Moore.

“In history this will always be known as the first clear look at Pluto. Then you have Pauls Valley’s Jeff Moore to see it and explain it to the world.”

These days’ Jeff is working on a climate change paper in Virginia, which examines conditions on Saturn’s moon Titan. It deals with comparisons of Earth, though its atmosphere is much thicker and involves rainstorms of methane.

The series continues each Tuesday at 10 p.m. except for June 24 on Oklahoma OETA, with the final episode on July 22. An eight-disc DVD set of the show is available at the Oklahoma History Center Museum Store, located near the state Capitol Building, or online in June.

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