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2009 SPS National Interns
2009 Interns | Past Interns | About the Program

  • Introduction
  • Online Journal
  • Final Presentation
Jose Castellano Jose Castellano
New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM)
Internship: NASA-Goddard Spaceflight Center
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  Oh I forgot to mention I'm a bit of a mariachi desperado

My name is Jose Castellano and I am from Las Cruces, NM currently attending New Mexico State University. I am a physics major minoring in chemistry and astronomy. I am finishing up my junior year with that. But man its getting tough. 

Anyway, aside from school, I have many different interests. My passion is music (mostly latin jazz) but I'm open to everything I play a few different instruments but my favorite is guitar (flamenco, jazz, bossa nova) so I hope we can jam this summer . I also love being outdoors and everything that comes with it. I hate the heat, makes me tired. But more than anything, I enjoy meeting new people and trying new things. I guess i'm a "you've got to be the change you want to see in the world" kind of guy. I cant wait to meet all of you this summer, I know its gona be a blast and hopefully we can all leave with a lot of new friends. Well till we meet, good luck on finals and everything.

Take care.

---- HoZeR -----

Jose Castellano Jose Castellano
New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM)
Internship: NASA-Goddard Spaceflight Center
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Final Reflections Friday, July 31st Friday, July 10th Friday, June 19th
  Friday, July 24th Friday, July 3rd Friday, June 12th
Friday, August 7th Friday, July 17th Friday, June 26th Friday, June 5th

Final Reflections

Wow, where to begin. This summer in whole was such an amazing experience. I made many new friends and met so many great people. I learned so much more about my field of study than I would have ever imagined. Not only by working at NASA, but more so by interacting with my fellow interns and sharing stories and feelings about every topic one could imagine. And the way we all found a way to turn any and every ordinary event into a scientific situation or problem was amazing. Even a night at the campus pub was filled with topics and chit chat related to physics.

Working at NASA, I found that dreams plus hard work really do work and in hand to do amazing things. My mentors had accomplished so much in their lives and careers. They really stood out as role models more than anything. But they were not these crazy rocket scientists, not at all. They were ordinary every day people that shared a passion for science and discovery. It was rather neat looking through scientific journals and articles and seeing there names hundreds of times in many different publications. They really helped bring up my motivation and self confidence in my field of study. If it’s one thing I learned more than anything else, it was that when studying science, you must always assume you’re wrong before you assume you’re right. I want to thank Tim McClanahan, Larry Evans, and Richard Star for helping me accomplish my goals this summer and for making the whole experience that much better.

As for the social life we, the interns, all shared, there were many twists and turns. Good times and bad, we all experienced new things. We shared so many laughs and a few tears too. I myself saw so many things that I never thought I would have the chance to see and experience. We saw much of our nation’s history and artifacts and learned more about why our country works the way it does. I also learned and realized that it takes a certain kind of personality and attitude to live amongst the political demeanor of Washington DC. As for me, I think I found that the big city life isn’t for me. I certainly missed the deserts and mountains and beautiful sunsets of New Mexico. But I know that it would be great to visit the big city life now and again.

As for my new friends, (Ian, Brad, Daniel, Erika, Raina, Laury, Mary, Leslie, Brian, Scott, and Erin), you all made this summer so much easier away from home. This summer flew by so fast but I will remember every bit of it for many years to come thanks to you guys. We all got to be great friends and learned a lot about and from each other. We got to see each other at our best and our worst but we could all relate in some weird way. I was able to converse with the other interns in ways that other people wouldn’t understand and I’m pretty darn sure it had something to do with the fact that we were all nerdy physics majors. So I want to especially thank you all for making this summer so great and hope to see you all again.

As for me, I will continue my studies at NMSU for the time being. This internship really helped verify my career choice. But in a sense, it also helped me realize that physics isn’t just a career, but rather a passion, a hobby, and more than anything a lifestyle. Realizing this really helped encourage me to finish my undergraduate studies strong so I can move on to the next level in this little game we call physics.

Thanks again to everyone at ACP for everything you did for us. You have been so generous and have changed my life indefinitely. I will always remember this internship and the great knowledge I took away from it. Thank you Kendra for all of your help and for taking care of us all. We would have been so lost without you. Thank you Gary, for inspiring us in everything we did and being a positive influence in our lives. Thank you so much for everything. I know this isn’t the end, not even the beginning of the end, but perhaps the end of the beginning for all of us in our lives. So good luck and thanks again

Jose Castellano

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Friday, August 7th

As this week winds down, I am so anxious to go home. However I have this growing feeling inside that I will miss this place greatly. I have pretty much finished up all my work for the summer and will hopefully continue working on different aspects of my project back at NMSU. One of those aspects is to finish creating a graphical user interface that could be used to plot, compare and contrast different characteristics of Earth’s moon using visualization techniques. This will probably take a while to complete now that school is starting and all. I also hope to stay in touch with the LRO mission as it progresses on its journey.

Well I am all packed up and had a great last week with all my new friends. On Wednesday morning, all 12 of us interns traveled one last time out to ACP for a final meeting before we left. We discussed the internship’s pros and cons and gave a little feedback of what we enjoyed and what we thought could be improved respectfully. We then headed back home and spent our last day together as a group. It was kind of sad seeing it end but I think we were all so glad and grateful we could take part in such an awesome experience. Thursday we all left for home and the Internship had finally come to an end……. But I can’t wait to see everyone again hopefully soon.

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Friday, July 31st

Well It was my last week at NASA and it was time to close up shop. I finished backing up all my files and prepared a progress report which contained details about my work and research at NASA this summer. This took a little while because as I was running my program to plot results, I kept finding ways to improve my work and would get a little sidetracked. I guess there is some good and bad aspects of that. I cleaned up my work area as well which was filled with print outs of plots and diagrams from my research. It was a busy week just doing that. On Wednesday we had a group tour of NASA with all of the other interns. It was great to see the visualization lab as well as the huge clean rooms and tents one of which contained an older piece of the Hubble space telescope. I look forward to going out to tour NIST next week. It was sad saying bye to all of my fellow workmates but it was great meeting them and working with them throughout the summer. I want to once again thank my mentors Tim, Larry, and Richard for helping and inspiring me this summer to continue my research. It was an awesome experience and I am very grateful for the opportunity. Soon Ill be home and back to classes again but I’m actually excited about it. And most of all I’m so excited to see my fiancé and my family. Well I better get going for now. Sorry this week was kind of short. Till next time

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Friday, July 24th

This week was very nerve-wracking. My professor Dr. Boris Kiefer came to visit NASA for the week and work with me on my project. I showed him my presentation and he was very impressed. I also explained that I had figured out the problems and errors in his and my previous programming. He was very excited. He then asked my to take this project to a new level. We talked about creating a complete graphical user interface for NASA and potentially other scientists to use which will create a program where many different kinds of data such as elemental abundance, topography, spectroscopy, radiation, etc, can be mapped and overlapped on a planetary or lunar surface. This program will be very useful because we would be able to compare different characteristics of the body we are studying which might help us understand more about their origins and the reasons for their distinct characteristics. I worked so hard this week that I came home with a headache every night from the programming and the physics and mathematical calculations. Computational physics is a whole other beast in itself. We were very successful in creating the beginning stages of this interface. There is a lot of work to be done but it is coming along very nicely. I look forward to continuing my work on it.

One more week and we go home. I cant wait to get home and eat some good old Mexican food and watch a New Mexico Sunset in the Dry air. But DC has definitely grown on me and left its mark. I even catch myself talking with a new accent sometimes and it is pretty funny. All the interns have been great and helped this summer not to be so lonely away from home so I want to thank them for that. But soon I will be home to my fiancé, my love, my best friend Stephanie. Two of our really good friends got married this week and I wish I could have been there. But I heard it was a great wedding so that’s good.

I look forward to getting as much done this coming week as I can before I leave. Till next time…. Toodles.

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Friday, July 17th

Well this so far was the busiest week I have had this summer. There was so much to get done in such a short time. In the beginning of the week I heard most of the other interns saying that they were mainly working on putting there presentations together. As for me, I still had so much research and testing to finish before Wednesday. Monday I spent the whole day running tests on the different programs I had written to explore hydrogen and iron abundance on the moon. The IDL programming language is very complicated especially for someone who doesn’t have much experience in programming at all. But I was able to catch on and process my results. On Tuesday morning I used a method of determining the covariance and plotting the cross correlation of hydrogen vs. other elements. The results were good in the way that I could basically check off iron as a cause of the hydrogen signature on the moon. Tuesday afternoon, I presented to my mentors and advisors at NASA. This was probably the most difficult presentation for me because I was presenting to the people that know more about what I am working on than anyone else in the world. I got some good contructive feedback. On Wednesday we practiced presenting at ACP and it went very well. I got some good advice from my piers on how to better my presentation. We also got a tour of ACP where the outreach interns work. It was a great day. On Thursday I worked on plotting results that were easier to read and understand for my presentation. I also practiced a few more times and called it a day. Friday was the moment of truth. I presented first in the morning. The title of my presentation was the search for water on the lunar surface. I feel the presentation went well. Ive learned from presenting in the past that there will always be something you wish you would have remembered to say or presented better. Overall though I think it went well. Everyone did a great job and represented themselves, ACP, SPS, and the schools they came from very well. It was a busy but very exciting and fulfilling week.

Life in DC is still chaotic but I have gotten used to it. There are things that you expect to see and hear when you wake up and go to sleep every day. You learn to plan for the worst so that you can enjoy the best. I miss home very much especially performing with my mariachi group. But more than anything I miss my fiancé. She has been so supportive of me this summer and I want to thank her for that and for being so patient and understanding. Ill be home soon. I have had the greatest opportunity this summer to be a part of this program and I am so grateful for the experience. So thanks again ACP, AIP, SPS, NASA, MU-SPIN and everyone who made this possible for me.

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Friday, July 10th

Wow the time is flying by so fast. This week was actually really productive and exciting at NASA despite the many speed bumps in the way. On Monday I was able to compile and retrieve all of the data I had prior to coming here. It was so awesome when my programs actually ran in IDL. I then began to make changes to some of the programs I had to give better views of the hydrogen on the southern hemisphere of the Moon. On Tuesday, I was actually able to rotate and match the maps to others that had previously been generated by scientists at NASA and Los Alamos National Laboratories. When I saw the similarities in the maps and realized that the program was relevant, I was so shocked and amazed. I immediately showed my mentor here at NASA and sent an email to my professor at NMSU who actually had the idea to look into this research project. I then continued to work on updating the program. I discovered that there was neutron data from the Lunar Prospector mission that had about 4X the resolution of the data I was currently using. I switched out the data sets and made better quality maps to compare the hydrogen content across the lunar surface. My mentor Tim McClanahan had a great Idea to compare the hydrogen data to the Iron data from the moon that had also been collected during the Lunar Prospector mission. The difference is that the iron data is from the gamma ray spectrometer. I created maps of the Iron abundance on the moon and then compared the two maps to see if the iron was giving the hydrogen signature by accident in my program. We thought that maybe the linear feature was caused by the Iron signature from the GRS. I created a program to cross correlate the two program maps with the ultimate goal of mapping the covariance of Iron and Hydrogen. The results were a little hard to understand but I am going to continue at that point next week.

As for life in DC, it remains interesting. I have gotten to know many of the other interns so well and we have become good friends. We played a lot of pool this week at Froggy Bottom Pub in the evenings. But the trip to and from work is still draining. But I guess I have kind of gotten used to it already. All together, it was a great week and I hope I will be ready to give my presentation next week. Wish me luck. Till next time...

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Friday, July 3rd

Week five has come and gone so fast. Fortunately, I finally had a chance to start my research now I have a computer I can use. I was able to make significant progress in my research this week. I was very proud to see that the project that Daniel and I worked on back at NMSU actually had some validity to it and my professor Dr. Boris Kiefer might be correct in his findings. There might actually be a week but sufficient semi linear string of hydrogen across the moon. As I revised some of the code in the IDL program and configured the maps of the hydrogen content rations on the moon, this became more and more apparent. I was also able to compare the maps we created to maps that had previously been created by NASA scientists and they seem very similar. It is a great feeling to know that you are actually getting somewhere and doing research that could possibly change the goals of human space exploration in the future. I will continue to try to find more correlation between the maps that we created and the actual average or accepted maps currently.

As for the rest of the aspects of the internship, I have made a lot of new friends and met many interesting people. Dr. Ann Parsons works in the astrochemistry department here at NASA. We work and in hand with the same group so we are able to interact with her and her students. One of those students is Julia. She is a grad student and has been at NASA for about three years. Julia and Ann extensively described there project to us which is a neutron generation and detection method to measure the elemental composition of the different surfaces. We were able to go out to the test site to see where all the work is done. We also met with the two new students in Ann’s group, Jessica and Rob. They both just graduated from high school and are here for the summer. Jessica has been working here for about a year now. I will be helping their team out sometimes at the test site while continuing my research. The best part about it is that they are both based on the same kind of physics.

This internship continues to be a great experience and I am learning a lot. Its still such a pain getting to and going home from work everyday but ill survive hopefully. All the interns are a blast and they all add a little spark to the group. Its great having the anticipation of going home everyday and hearing about everyone’s experiences at work and at home. I do however miss my fiancé so incredibly much but soon we will be together again. I am grateful that she is so supportive of me and what I am doing. I love her very much and cant wait to see her. But until then, I look forward to continuing my research and hopefully coming up with somewhat of a conclusion to my work so I can decide where to go from here.

Till next time...Jose

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Friday, June 26th

This week passed by relatively fast. I spent most of my week trying to resolve computer issues at my workstation. The problem had to do with licensing for the IDL software. The other problem was trying to successfully link the computer I am working on to another computer network through SSH. It was a very frustrating few days trying to figure this out. I was however able to study more about the program that was previously written at NMSU that mapped the hydrogen content across the moon. I believe I found a few areas where the data input might have been misinterpreted. I hope now that I have a functioning system; I will be able to successfully find the problem with the program directly and clear it up. Then I might be able to continue on to a branch of this project.

The rest of the week back at GW was interesting as always. Us group of interns always have something going on and it is a lot of fun hanging out with everyone. We have explored the city quite a bit and found places to go and have a good time. I still miss home very much. I guess my heart will always be in the desert.

Well until next time...

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Friday, June 19th

This third week of the internship had its share of ups and downs. Saturday was a great day a whole bunch of us went out to six flags for a day of theme park fun. Everyone was beat by the end of the day. On Sunday, I got up early to take care of some errands before our trip. At about 4:00pm we left GWU and headed out to the airport. After checking in and passing security, we found out that our plane had been delayed and the farthest we would get that night was Newark, New Jersey. After hours of rearranging our plans, we flew in and checked in to our room in New Jersey at about 12:30am. We then woke up a few hours later to catch our flight into Orlando where we rented our car for the week and drove out to Cocoa Beach to check into our hotel. After finally arriving at our destination, we headed out to Kennedy Space Center for the remainder of the day for pre launch meeting. We found out later on that afternoon that the LRO launch had been delayed until Thursday instead of Wednesday due to the Space Shuttle launch on Wednesday morning. That was very disappointing to hear being that we were leaving early Thursday morning. We would still be able to see the Space Shuttle launch on Wednesday morning so it brought some consolation to the whole situation. Tuesday morning, we headed back to Kennedy Space Center for the second day of pre-launch meetings specifically with the LRO LEND team. It was a long day of discussion, however I learned so much more about the mission background and opportunities of continued research on this project mission. There is going to be quite bit of work to do once the Instrument is in orbit around Earths moon. After about 6 hours of discussion, we finished off with a reception at the Kennedy visitor’s center which was held for all the people who were involved in the LRO and LCROS mission. It was a great evening. Wednesday morning Ian, Daniel, and I drove out to watch the space shuttle launch at about 4:00am. As we sat there waiting we overheard that the shuttle had once again been delayed because of a hydrogen gas leak. I was really disappointed when we found out about the delay. We drove back to the hotel and discussed further plans. Ian and Daniel decided to stay for the launch of LRO on Friday afternoon granted the great generosity once again from ACP. Unfortunately I needed to come back Thursday morning because my family was flying in for the weekend from New Mexico for my birthday on Sunday. On Wednesday evening, we went out to the beach to swim and relax for a while. I flew out Thursday morning from Orlando back to BWI airport and met up with my family. Ironically I saw Kendra at the airport and told her about the week. I spent the rest of the weekend with my family and showed them around DC and told them about all of the experiences I had thus far.

Despite all of the delays and cancellations, it was a great week and I learned so much more about the project which I am currently involved in. I also had the pleasure and honor of meeting some incredible scientists and engineers from all over the world. I am so thankful that I was able to take part in this great experience. For the remainder of the summer, I will be able to monitor the status of the LRO mission. I hope that I will have the opportunity to analyze some of the data that will be sent back from LEND before I leave home at the end of the summer.

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Friday, June 12th

NASA Week 2

This week turned out to be very interesting in many ways. On Saturday some of us went to the National Zoo in the afternoon. It was the first time I had seen a panda in person, or I guess in Panda if you will. Later on that evening, all of the interns joined the executive board of SPS for dinner at Buca di Bepo (Joes Basement) for a great Italian meal. We were able to discuss our projects with the board and learn about their backgrounds as well. It was a great day. On Monday Ian, Daniel, and I had a meeting with our mentors discussing our research plans for the summer that we had prepared. My plan is to continue my research that I had started back at NMSU which involved mapping the hydrogen content on the lunar surface by means of using IDL programming software to analyze the epithermal neutron flux taken by the Lunar Prospector mission. In regions where there are lower epithermal neutron count rates, there is a greater chance of finding hydrogen. I will need to double check my input data for the IDL program to make sure that the mapping image is not reversed to show high epithermal neutron flux rather than high hydrogen content. The group I am working in at NASA is in charge of the LEND (Lunar Explorer Neutron Detector) instrument on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which is scheduled to launch on June 17, 2009 from Cape Canaveral Florida. Ian and I attended the NASA group 690 peer awards luncheon and had some burgers and hotdogs as six employees from 690 were presented awards for their dedication, service, and commitment to their group. Later on in the week, the interns were invited to see the play “Legacy of light“ at the arena stage theatre. It was a really great play and I recommend it especially to people who have an interest in science.

Since our mentors at NASA are going to be heading down to Cape Canaveral for the launch of the LRO mission, we thought we would humorously ask if we could come. Well as it turns out, Gary thought it was a good Idea and it would help us with our research. Our mentors agreed that it would be a good experience. So it turns out that Ian, Daniel, and I will be going down to Florida to attend a few meetings and see the launch of the LRO mission from Cape Canaveral. We will be leaving Sunday evening and returning Thursday after the launch. I want to express my sincere gratitude to Gary White and all of SPS for giving us this opportunity. I am so thankful knowing that this will be a great learning experience and it will help me with my research. We won’t let you down SPS. Hopefully the mission won’t get delayed again. I want to also thank Ian for arranging the trip for us. All in all it was a great week.

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Friday, June 5th

A summer in the city is a new experience for me. As I arrived, I truly didn’t know what to expect. However when I got to my room and said hello to my fellow interns I begin to get a hint of the summer to come. I have spent a lot of time with my fellow interns in this past week and everyone is very unique and interesting to say the least. So many points of view, interests, talents, and dreams everyone has. We laugh and converse in our own ways, even though we probably sound very nerdy to the people around us.

As for the transition from the place I call home, it’s a bit difficult. I truly miss the true MEXICAN FOOD, the wide open spaces, the clear star filled skies, and most of all my fiancé. But it is always good to experience new things for a while because it helps you realize what you truly want out of life.

Work this week was interesting as well. The two hour trip to work every morning is inconvenient to say the least but that’s life here in the city I suppose. Upon arriving to work every morning, I have learned that my bosses/mentors are very intelligent, bright but most of all down to earth and humorous people. They made us feel very welcome upon our arrival, even though we have no computers of means by which to conduct our research yet. Hopefully next week that will change. My research topic for the summer is going to be dealing with the moon. I will be exploring a unnoticed linear feature that suggests a high content of hydrogen across the southern hemisphere of the lunar surface. I will be using the epithermal neutron flux data from the Lunar Prospector mission to develop more maps of the moon to try to find presently undetected regions of water. I hope to work with some of the data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which is scheduled to launch on June 17, 2009 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

All in all, this week has turned out alright. I don’t know how long will survive the trips to and from work without going crazy but I’ll do my best. I’m looking forward to a great summer.

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Jose Castellano Jose Castellano
New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM)
Internship: NASA-Goddard Spaceflight Center
Follow SPS on: Twitter Facebook YouTube Photobucket The Nucleus Email and Share
Final Presentation

Search for Hydrogen on the Lunar Surface


The focus of this project is to use data reduction methods to analyze epithermal neutron counts of Hydrogen signatures taken from the Lunar Prospector and LRO LEND missions launched by NASA. With this data we can determine areas that could possibly contain sufficient amounts of water. IDL imaging and programming software is the method by which the data was analyzed and presented. If this research his proved viable, we could use it as a reference for the next manned mission to the moon to search for regions with possible water. In the midst of the research, a complete Graphical User Interface was developed to cross correlate and find the covariance of different elemental abundances on the lunar surface. This GUI could possibly be used by NASA and other scientific research centers as a tool to look at the variations and ratios of lunar characteristics by means of mapping and imaging rather than the traditional data analysis. All in all, this research is moving forward and will hopefully contribute much to the future of space exploration.
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