As Austin starts its post-holiday trudge through the gray but mostly inoffensive winter, South by Southwest draws ever closer. The festival announced on January 10 a new keynote session about NASA and its third round of featured speakers, and they’re certainly not just filler.
“Unfold The Universe: NASA’s Webb Space Telescope” will explore the contributions of (and to) the James Webb Space Telescope, which released exciting full-color images on July 12, 2022, most notably of the Cosmic Cliffs in the Carina Nebula, which took social media by storm, juxtaposing sandy amorphous peaks and a midnight blue “sky” dotted with stars and other cosmic cameos.
The Webb Telescope was a landmark achievement — the largest and most complex observatory ever launched into space, according to the keynote description — and will continue providing new wonders for scientists and enthusiasts alike. The description is vague about the topics at hand beyond analysis and next plans for the telescope, but promises a fresh look at a never-before-seen image. Whatever the agenda, hearing from the Webb Telescope team lead Laura Betz, astrophysicist Dr. Knicole Colón, planetary scientist Dr. Stefanie Milam, and Astrophysicist Dr. Amber Straughn will give fascinating insight on working on this cutting edge technology.
“We are honored to host a Keynote Session featuring members of the James Webb Space Telescope team,” said SXSW chief programming officer and co-president Hugh Forrest. “They join an impressive group of Featured Speakers who have consistently strived for progress and discovery across a diverse range of industries, including healthcare, technology, transportation, food, and the arts.”
This round of speakers (following the second round announced in November) included the festival opener, Simran Jeet Singh, executive director of the Religion & Society Program at the Aspen Institute. Singh’s ideas can be found in his book The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life.
As the term “featured” would suggest, the remaining speakers make up a smaller group than, say, the music showcases (now totaling nearly 500 after two rounds of announcements).
Featured Speakers Announced include:
- Comedian, actor, and creator and host of The Eric Andre Show, Eric André
- Billboard R&B / Hip-Hop Rookie of the Year and multi-platinum artist, producer and co-founder and CEO of EVGLE, Blxst
- Disney Parks, Experiences and Products chairman Josh D'Amaro
- Actress, writer, director, producer and founder and creative director of CURRAN, Tommy Dorfman
- Creator and host of the podcast Crime Junkie and founder and CEO of Audiochuck, Ashley Flowers
- Drag queen, makeup artist, author and trans rights activist Gottmik
- Singer, songwriter, actor and member of the Grammy Award-nominated band Jonas Brothers, Nick Jonas
- Chairman of the board of the Drum Major Institute Martin Luther King III
- Primetime Emmy Award-winning creator, writer, executive producer and showrunner of Lost and Watchmen, Damon Lindelof
- Emmy-nominated director, producer, actress, entrepreneur and activist Eva Longoria
- Seven Seven Six Founder and former executive chair of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian
- Activist, eco-entrepreneur and founder of Upenndo! Productions Maya Penn
- Founder and CEO of Luminar, Austin Russell
- Record producer, director, screenwriter, rapper and composer RZA
- President and CEO of PayPal, Dan Schulman
- Best-selling author (Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail) Cheryl Strayed
- COO of Reddit, Jen Wong
For a full schedule and more information on featured sessions, visit SXSW.com.