Week 8: "Charging"

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


Nick Durofchalk

The beginning of week eight marked the beginning of 'crunch time.' The science jamboree and SPS Goddard tour Kirsten and I were to lead were Thursday, the SPS Intern Symposium was the week after, and the NASA Goddard summer intern poster session was to be the Thursday after that. The end had just come in to sight, and I wasn't ready to see it. And while Monday was an incredible day, it didn't help ease my nerves.

On Monday, Caleb, Jamar, and I- the three summer interns working with the Eta Carinae studies at Goddard- took a half day and attended a NASA sponsored panel discussion called "The Search For Life." The panel was amazing and full of incredibly smart people such as John Mather, John Grunsfeld, Dave Gallagher, Sara Seager, and Matt Mountain. They talked about the James Webb Space Telescope and how it could be used to possibly detect organic gasses in exoplanetary atmospheres. Before we left for the panel, Dr. Gull gave Caleb and I a copy of the recent Eta Carinae press release (link here) and a 3D print of the Homunculus Nebulae for us to hand to John Grunsfield, a former astronaut and friend of Dr. Gull and Charles Bolden, The Administrator of NASA. So after the presentation and discussion, Caleb approached Grunsfield and I approached Bolden. I shook his hand, introduced myself, handed him the 3D Printed Neubulae and Homunculus, and told him about Dr. Ted Gull's work at NASA Goddard involving Eta Carinae. Our conversation was brief, but all in all it's still pretty neat that I shook the hand of the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

At left is a photo I quickly took with my phone before the panel started. It was kind of a big deal! They had camera's and it was broadcasted live on NASA Television. If you want to watch the presentation, its on NASA's YouTube Channel. Here's a link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNjuz6MO0eU

Tuesday and Wednesday passed too quickly. Ted gave Caleb, Jamar, and I the assignment of creating a handout that briefly presented the work that the three of us have been doing thus far this summer. This little handout would be available for reading and taking at the Eta Cariane table for the Science Jamboree. So we brainstormed together, and decided to do a three-fold pamphlet. I volunteered to format and create the actual pamphlet (I had access to Microsoft Publisher, so that makes it a lot easier), as long as Caleb and Jamar could help me with the brief write ups. I finished the pamphlet late Wednesday night and I think it turned out great. You can see for yourself by following the link here.

On Tuesday night, AIP hosted a dinner at the College Park Aviation Museum for the SPS interns, their mentors, and other distinguished guests. Not only was the company incredible (I got to eat with Dr. Mather!), the museum was really cool. It showcased a lot of the Wright Brother's early accomplishments. We posed for an SPS group picture in front of the museum's climbable "Imagination Plane." It was a fun night.

On Thursday, Kirsten and I led a tour of NASA Goddard for the SPS Interns. Her and I coordinated our stops and stays and where we would walk. Goddard's campus is so large that we could barely fit what we wanted to see in one tour, but we managed by making a couple sacrifices. In my opinion, the highlight of the tour was the Science Jamboree. Basically, it was bunch of tables inside Building 28 at Goddard. At these tables, representatives from some of Goddard's research teams presented what's new in their field, and happily talked with interested guests about what they were researching. A lot of tables included small demonstrations or handouts of posters, stickers, pins, or other goodies. The Eta Carinae table proudly displayed the pamphlet I created and hosted a raffle competition to win a 3D printed Homunculus Nebulae. After the Jamboree, Dr. Gull gave us a tour of building 29, which houses the giant clean room where the James Webb Space Telescope will be assembled, and a host of other incredible sights. The tour went better than I anticipated and everybody had a great time. It was a good day

Nick Durofchalk