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Friday, July 14, 2017


Eleanor Hook

This week was packed with tours, as we had NASA and NIST back-to-back! I had way too much fun at both of them.

Sam and Kristine were wonderful tour guides at NASA and had clearly put a lot of thought into the day. We started off at the Science Jamboree, an annual showcase of GSFC's numerous projects. I spoke with representatives of teams from the James Webb Space Telescope, the Global Precipitation Measurement, and the scientific balloon program. I even got to try out VR!

After lunch, we headed over to Kristine's office to meet her mentor and learn more about her research, which involves investigating the magnetic properties of the Sun that cause its corona to be orders of magnitude hotter than we would expect. Then Sam's mentor cheerfully took over and led us around the testing facilities.

Obviously, before you send anything into space-- no matter how small or simple-- you need to test it extensively first. We got to see equipment that can bring the temperature down to just above absolute zero, clean rooms (from the outside), and spaces that test stability through vibration. In case you were wondering, this is where components for the James Webb Space Telescope were tested just a few months ago!

NIST was every bit as exciting. I loved being able to visit a variety of labs and learn about the projects going on there, from Bose-Einstein condensates to robotic testing facilities. I really enjoyed the neutron center, where the director was thrilled to meet fellow physics nerds!

Since I was gone for so much of the week, I missed all the excitement of the science committee’s hearing and climate roundtable. However, I’ve still gotten to attend a couple of hearings and briefings. I can’t wait until next week, when we’re having a hearing on Mars Rover 2020 and Europa Clipper!

Eleanor Hook