Davis, Jason

Davis, Jason

My NASA Space Grant project is a documentary film called Desert Moon. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared humans would walk on the moon before the end of the decade. But at the time, scientists knew very little about the moon—including whether the surface was solid, or a thick layer of dust that would swallow a spacecraft.

Desert Moon explores the creation of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. The lab, founded by astronomer Gerard Kuiper, played a critical role in constructing the first photographic lunar atlases in support of the Apollo moon landings. Kuiper’s team also participated in the Ranger program, an effort to send America’s first unmanned spacecraft to the moon.

The film features interviews with current and retired UA planetary scientists, and contains archival photos and videos from the lab’s early days. Desert Moon debuts at Flandrau Science Center in 2014.

I am a University of Arizona journalism master’s student specializing in science writing. Last year, I created Scientific Tucsonan, a digital science journalism magazine for iPad. I was the Wick Science Communications Intern for Green Valley News. I am also a contributing editor for the Planetary Society, a non-profit space advocacy group co-founded by Carl Sagan and currently led by Bill Nye.

Documentary Explores How the UA Helped Land a Man on the Moon