ASU launches Cronkite Nation at inaugural Cronkite Day celebration

October 31, 2012

Arizona State University is launching Cronkite Nation, an interactive online network for graduates of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Cronkite Nation, which was unveiled Oct. 26 at Cronkite Day, the school’s alumni celebration, is designed to connect Cronkite graduates across the years and features a searchable map that displays alumni around the globe. It enables graduates to create and update profiles that aggregate their online content and social media accounts. Users also can send private messages to other Cronkite alumni. Download Full Image

More than 1,100 Cronkite graduates in 48 states and 19 countries on six continents currently have profiles on the site.

Liz Smith, Cronkite’s outreach director, said the site will allow Cronkite alumni to reconnect with others from their class cohort and help each other advance in their careers. It also enables employers to search for graduates by name, location and skill set.  

“This platform allows Cronkite alums to leverage the school’s powerful worldwide alumni network, Cronkite Nation, to their advantage, helping employers find them and allowing them to follow classmates’ careers,” Smith said.

Cronkite Nation was developed by a team of students in the school’s New Media Innovation Lab, a full-immersion professional program in which students create new digital media products for companies and nonprofit organizations. The student team was led by project managers David Ryan and David Sydiongco and included Andrew Gilstrap, Chelsey Heath and Donyelle Kesler. The project was overseen by lab director Retha Hill and web developer Micah Jamison.

ASU journalism alumni spanning seven decades attended Cronkite Day, the school’s first-ever large-scale alumni celebration, along with current and prospective students, faculty, staff and other guests. The event, which was held at the Cronkite building on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, was conceived and planned by the Cronkite National Board of Advisors, a group of 10 alumni that advises the dean.

The day featured a series of showcase panels, with alumni discussing topics that included international journalism, coverage of the 2012 elections, public relations in the digital age and the state of local TV news. In addition, the broadcast team from ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” including Cronkite alumnus Chip Dean, the show’s coordinating director, participated in a panel about the award-winning show.  

Guests also had the opportunity to talk with current Cronkite students and see their work in state-of-the-art newsrooms, TV studios, digital classrooms and innovation laboratories around the building. Other activities included behind-the-scenes tours of the award-winning, LEED-certified Cronkite building and one-on-one professional development sessions with top Cronkite faculty and alumni.

“Thanks to the support and contributions of our alumni, the National Board of Advisors and the Cronkite School, our inaugural Cronkite Day celebration was an unqualified success,” said Craig A. Newman, chairman of the National Board of Advisors. “Alumni spanning seven decades reconnected with the Cronkite School, and the event provided a unique forum to discuss some of the most important and challenging issues facing journalism and mass communication today.”

Reporter , ASU Now


NASA's Dawn sees young face on giant asteroid

October 31, 2012

Like a Hollywood starlet constantly retouching her make-up, the giant asteroid Vesta is constantly stirring its outermost layer and presenting a young face. Data from NASA's Dawn mission show that a common form of weathering, which occurs on many airless bodies in the inner solar system like the Moon, does not age Vesta’s outermost layer.

Carbon-rich asteroids have also been splattering dark material on Vesta's surface over a long span of its history. The results are described in two papers reported on Nov. 1 in the journal Nature. Download Full Image

David Williams, an associate research professor in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, is a co-author of the Nature article on Vesta’s dark material, titled “Dark Material on Vesta: Delivering Carbonaceous Volatile-Rich Materials to Planetary Surfaces.”

“The dark material on Vesta has been a perplexing problem, one we first noticed as Dawn approached Vesta in the summer of 2011,” said Williams, a member of the science team task force investigating the dark material. “Through Dawn’s mission at Vesta, it became clear that the dark material was mostly derived from carbon-rich asteroids that impacted Vesta’s surface.”

Early pictures of Vesta showed a variety of dramatic light and dark splotches on its surface. These light and dark materials were unexpected and show Vesta has a brightness range that is among the largest observed on rocky bodies in our solar system.

“Most of the smaller dark material patches are associated with impact craters, forming dark rays of ejecta spreading outward,” Williams said. “There are also large regions of dark material, whose composition suggests they are derived from carbon-rich asteroids – perhaps from one or more large impacts early in Vesta’s history.”

Dawn scientists suspected early on that bright material is native to Vesta. One of their first theories for the dark material suggested it might come from the shock of high-speed impacts melting and darkening the underlying rocks or from recent volcanic activity.

An analysis of data from Dawn’s visible and infrared mapping spectrometer and the framing camera revealed that distribution of dark material is widespread and occurs in small spots and in diffuse deposits, without correlation to any particular underlying geology. The likely source of the dark material is now shown to be carbon-rich asteroids, which are also believed to have deposited hydrated minerals on Vesta.

To get the amount of darkening we now see on Vesta, Williams and colleagues said, scientists estimate about 300 dark asteroids with diameters between 0.6 to 6 miles (1 and 10 kilometers) likely hit Vesta during the last 3.5 billion years. This would have been enough to wrap Vesta in a blanket of mixed material 3 to 7 feet (1 to 2 meters) thick.

“This perpetual contamination of Vesta with material from elsewhere in the solar system is a dramatic example of an apparently common process that changes many solar system objects,” said Thomas McCord, lead author of the Nature paper, who worked with Williams on this study. “Earth likely got the ingredients for life – organics and water – this way.”

Launched in 2007, Dawn spent more than a year investigating Vesta. It departed in September 2012 and is currently on its way to the dwarf planet Ceres.

Williams is a participating scientist on NASA’s Dawn mission. JPL manages the Dawn mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) is responsible for overall Dawn mission science.

Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Va., designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. The California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages JPL for NASA.

For more information about Dawn, visit: and

Associate Director, Media Relations & Strategic Communications