Week 6: Conference Prep and NASA Awesomeness

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Friday, July 19, 2013


Christine O'Donnell

Since next week is the AAPT Summer Meeting in Portland, the office was pretty busy with final preparations.  For me, besides practicing the presentation I’ll be giving to the Executive Board and Section Representatives, I also worked more on completing drafts of the resources I plan to finish this summer.  I worked on creating a one-pager to explain why we need more funding for NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program as well as brainstorming ideas for a one-pager about AAPT.  I’m also working on a one-pager to give some advice on how to set up and conduct direct meetings with policymakers.  The goal is to have a set of short documents that are “complete” – a member can take these, read them, and be prepared to do advocacy.  During the Summer Meeting, I hope to get some feedback and suggestions from members about what will help them and so I can tailor these documents to their needs.

The highlight of the week though (at the risk of repeating my fellow interns) was a visit to NASA Goddard.  We got to attend a town hall meeting where Charlie Bolden (NASA Administrator) answered questions about what NASA is doing and how it relates to Goddard employees.  Bolden is very personable and likes to tell stories and give advice, especially to NASA interns.  We then had a long, extended tour of some of Goddard’s facilities and work, including seeing a large centrifuge used to test whether instruments will withstand the forces of launch and seeing Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (which was removed during the 2009 servicing mission).  It was a really special treat!  The WFPC2 is set to go on display at the Air & Space Museum in December, but we got to see it first.  The camera is missing its radiator since it’s currently being tested due to micrometeorite impacts while the camera was in space.  Finally, we got to hear about the research that Alec and Darren are doing at Goddard – they certainly set the bar way too high for other facility visits :)

Anyway, now I’m off to Portland for the Summer Meeting, and while I neglected to bring a camera to the Goddard visit, I’ll be sure to come back from Portland with pictures to share!