Week 7: Tours Galore

Share This:

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Samantha Pedek

 As the summer winds down, the events and obligations are picking up. As a major part of the internship, we all are required to give tours of our placement sites to the rest of our cohort. The only tour so far has been the phenomenal tour of Capitol Hill from the Mather Interns. On Wednesday of this week Kristine and I, with the help of my mentor, Dr. Wollack, put on our tour of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and on Thursday Luis put on his tour of NIST.

On the GSFC tour we attended the Science Jamboree, a campus wide event where all the different departments showcase their work and share what they do. It was incredibly fun to have the rest of the SPS cohort (plus Brad Conrad, the Director of SPS) there to see the many different facets of GSFC. We then visited Kristine’s work space where her mentor, Dr. Viall-Kepko, spoke about her work with the sun’s corona and the major questions that her team, as well as heliophysicists around the world, are try to answer. We visited a space craft testing facility and learned briefly about the rigorous testing procedures space bound equipment must go through to ensure safety and to ensure everything will survive the launch. We also go to see the world’s largest clean room that, until a few months ago, was the home of the James Webb Space Telescope. We then made our way over to my work space where Dr. Wollack explained some of the work he is involved with, primarily with studying the Cosmic Microwave Background and building detectors to do so. To end the tour, we made our way to the Visitor Center, which is like a tiny museum with interactive activities, a rocket garden, and much more. Even though the tour consisted of walking over four and a half miles in very warm weather, it was successful. I learned more about the facility as a whole, and had a lot of fun along the way. Thank you to everyone who helped pull it off!

The following day, we ventured over to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). There, we saw Newton’s Tree, an actual descendant of the tree that inspired Newton’s laws of gravity, some historical unit standard objects, and so much more! We also visited some of the various labs around the facility including a Bose-Einstein condensate lab, where they are building BEC “crystals” in order to further study quantum properties. We also visited a robot testing lab where the standards for robots are set. This is done by basically putting the robots through various obstacle courses, which was incredibly cool to see. We then visited the NIST Center for Neutron Research, where they use neutrons (created in a fission reactor) to study other materials. We also got to see the lab the Luis has been working in all summer, and the work being done there on nanotubes. Overall it was a wonderful tour!

I am extremely grateful for these tours because we all get to glimpse into what it is like to work at many different places. The only tours left are Michael’s tour of OSA (next week) and the ACP tour (the last week). The diversity of the people and the experiences within the cohort continue to liven the whole internship experience.

The cohort at NASA

Samantha Pedek