Wednesday, July 15, 2015By:
This weekend was the Fourth of July! We were truly locals on the Fourth. Instead of witnessing the mass chaos that is the National Mall, me and several other interns went to a nice restaurant that overlooked the Capitol. It was a cloudy night, but we could still see the fireworks as we enjoyed a nice dinner. On our way back home we happened across people launching off fireworks in the street.
This Tuesday we held our NASA tour! I am glad to say it was a smashing success. My mentor at NASA gave the tour for the other SPS interns. We started off by seeing my lab and the interns saw the equipment used to generate, propagate, filter, polarize, and detect microwave radiation in the lab setting. Shortly after we met up with John Mather and asked questions about science politics and his take on recent scientific discoveries. Dr. Mather also told us about what discoveries he thought would be made over the next few decades. He mentioned the relevance of bacterial ecosystems in humans, and how the expanding field of biological physics will become increasingly important.
Next up was the Science Jamboree! There were poster presentations of ongoing NASA research, food trucks, and virtual reality goggles. We also saw the NASA Center for Climate Simulation (NCCS) supercomputer used to model Earth science phenomena. The next stop was the massive clean room used for the construction and testing of the James Webb Space Telescope and other large NASA satellites. One of the most impressive pieces of equipment inside is the 40 foot tall Thermal Vacuum Chamber capable of reaching temperatures as low as 14 Kelvin.
The final stop on our tour was Hubble Space Telescope mission control. There was also a small museum next to the mission control room. We got to see images Hubble has taken and what the images tell us about the cosmos. We also learned about how astronauts fixed Hubble when it had a power failure or a malfunctioning part. This was probably the most interesting portion of the tour for me due to the ingenuity of scientists solving these problems.