Week 9: Winding Down

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Samantha Pedek

In my experience, Week 9 is always, by far, the most stressful week. Abstracts, posters, and presentations need to be completed, while wrapping up the entire project. That being said, I had a pretty fantastic week.

My parents and twin sister came out to visit me here in DC last weekend, which was a really nice reprieve from work. We packed so much into such a short amount of time! We went to the American History Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Botanical Gardens and so much more! Though we put some serious milage on our walking shoes, and it was unbearably hot, it was absolutely wonderful to see my family. I think we all needed a bit of a break, and DC was the perfect place to do so.

Getting breakfast and an old fashioned diner with the family before they left was the perfect way to start off an incredibly busy week. At NASA we had our abstracts and posters due at the end of the week, and, unfortunately, I was still running simulations and making plots on Monday.

As a reminder of what I have been working on all summer (warning, this might get a little technical):

My mentor, Dr. Edward Wollack, and his team are studying the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. The cosmic microwave background (CMB) can give insight on the behavior of the early universe. Temperature measurements have been made by instruments such as COBE, WMAP, and Planck, which showed the non-uniformity of the universe. The next step in CMB measurement is to study the polarization, which can test the cosmological theory of inflation. This could help us understand the mechanism behind the structure of our universe.

The detectors that our lab make need to be kept at approximately 0.1 Kelvin. Infrared radiation can warm up the detectors and decrease its performance. Infrared filters can help keep the detectors cool. My work this summer focused on designing a metal-mesh filter based on a non-periodic rotationally symmetric tiling, rather than the commonly used Cartesian tilling. This week, I finalized my design, completed my poster and abstract, and started working on my talk for SPS next week.

Now that my ducks are in a row, and my project is wrapping up nicely, I just can’t believe I will be home in under a week. I have loved my time here in DC, thoroughly enjoyed my project and my team, and am really going to miss all the people I have met here, especially the other interns and the people of SPS.  

My family and I visiting the Lincoln Memorial
My family utilizing the Capitol Bike Share program around DC

Samantha Pedek