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  Ben Hammack ENC 1102 Professor Wolcott 9/22/13 Genre Analysis Comprised of brilliant scientists and engineers, NASA focuses on the exploration of the cosmos. But behind the amazement of launching a space shuttle or landing a robot on Mars, NASA is the quintessential discourse community, in which rocket scientists use genres to compile, communicate, and construct flight plans and spacecraft designs. Carolyn R. Miller, a scientist of rhetoric, defines genres as “typified rhetorical actions based in recurrent situations” (Devitt 576) . Whether it’s a drawing of flight profiles or a timeline of orbital maneuvers, these genres carry traits of their discourse community of creation. In this genre analysis, three unique, but similar documents will be inspected. Appendix A is the official flight profile for the Apollo 11 mission; the mission that landed the first men on the moon. Appendix B-an excerpt from the STS-1 press release-is the mission profile for the first space shuttle orbit. Appendix C is a slide from a proposal-which was later accepted-to land the Mars Science Laboratory safely on Mars. The common characteristic that defines this genre is a caricature of the flight path. This was most likely in response to confusion and incoherence when attempting to visualize a list of orbital maneuvers. This genre that spawned is essentially a visualized timeline of what happens when. Appendix A is made up of rays and specific orbital maneuvers at certain points along the flight path. A majority of the descriptions at points along the flight path use technical lexis and acronyms to describe the maneuvers. This esoteric diction can only be interpreted by high level scientists and  astronauts; not the general public. Appendix A differs from Appendix B in the sense that no measurements are shown (e.g. the amount of delta-V needed to burn in order to change orbits). This indicates NASA operates on a “need to know” basis. Information that is passed between members of this discourse community does not leak out to those who do not need to know. At the time of Apollo 11, the U.S. was engaged in a space race with the S.U, therefore leaking information to an untrusted individual could be detrimental to NASA’s goal of being the first to put a man on the moon. Appendix B is comparable to Appendix A, as it contains many of the same graphical and stylistic elements to display the mission profile. The flight path is a single ray with multiple points and descriptions. In contrast, Appendix B includes times and coordinates of the space shuttle in the descriptions. This document was released to the press after the successful mission. This demonstrates that NASA cooperates with the media to enhance the general public’s knowledge of NASA’ s goal to create a re-usable space plane. Ultimately, this furthers N ASA’s public relations and influence in society. This is an example of how NASA can expand its influence in society, and even recruit new members and potential investors into the discourse community. Appendix C is different from the previous two mentioned appendices due to its differing artistic and logistical style. This document does not contain rays or unintelligible descriptions. Rather it contains detailed pictures and simple descriptions along a quasi-chronological scale. This is understandable when the document is put into perspective, as it is one of many methods that members of NASA use to communicate. The document is a hypothetical design that the engineering team created to provide elite rocket scientists a solution to a problem (the problem of how to safely land the Mars Science Laboratory on Mars), therefore, it contains no measurements. This design plan is valid and legitimate due to the credibility of the engineering team that designed the “sky - crane” system . It is also notable that this document would most likely not be accessible to the public; had it not been implemented and  successfully deployed. Powerpoint presentations are very useful in NASA, as they allow different branches of the discourse community to communicate ideas and promote cooperative design. Each of these documents contains a drawn-out flight path for the mission, as well as multiple comments and annotations along the path. The drawn-out flight path reflects the need for visual simplicity, which is fundamental when communicating between different hierarchies of the discourse community, as seen in Appendix B from NASA to the press, or in Appendix C from the research department to the engineering department. Documents are created to be visually simplistic so that ideas can be clearly conveyed without the obfuscation of numbers and measurements. Annotations and comments along the flight path, however, reflect the intercommunication between hierarchies of the discourse community. Measurements and calculations created by one division of NASA may be classified or unsuitable for another division. Due to the fact that many documents do not indicate precise measurements such as orbital maneuvers and re-entry sequences, it can be inferred that NASA functions on a need-to-know basis, where information is only passed between divisions if it is relevant to the division’s purpose within the discourse community. Through an analysis of genre, it can be summarized that NASA is an organization of elite scientists and engineers. These members communicate with each other using very technical diction that an outsider would not understand. The work done by members of NASA is classified, but when a mission goes according to plan, documents are released in order to keep the public informed. NASA coordinates with the media in order to effectively educate and enlighten people about their goals. All in all, each document refle cts a unique aspect of NASA’s function as a discourse community. Each document fulfills at least one of the six fundamental practices of a discourse community, as defined by John Swales (24). This confirms and reinforces Devitt’s proposition that “ [Genres] can reveal a great deal about the communities which construct and use those genres” (581).     Appendix A
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