PART 1: Allan Meyer's background
PART 2: Biography on an instrument maker
PART 3: Ted Dunham's various duties


By Vedant Kulkarni (High School senior)

"The process of science is the most important skill to learn in high 
school," said an astronomer recently.

This astronomer is Mr. Allan Meyer, who works for the National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration at the NASA-Ames Research 
Center. During his career at NASA, he has seen the planning and 
completion of an airborne telescope, the Kuiper Airborne 
Observatory (KAO). The KAO is a modified cargo plane that contains 
a three-foot infrared telescope and astronomy equipment. The 
telescope collects data during the flight at 41,000 feet while 
astronomers, such as Mr. Meyer help insure that good data is 
collected.  His job aboard the KAO is to adjust the telescope in the sky 
to point at desired objects for study.

He has worked on the KAO project since 1976 and has successfully 
completed 1,000 plane flights. He has witnessed such astronomical 
events such as solar eclipses and comet passings. On one occasion, 
he went with a group of scientists aboard the KAO to New Zealand to 
observe the passage of Halley's comet. But Mr. Allan Meyer not only 
has observed many historical events, he has also received the 
opportunity to explore many places around the world such as Hawaii, 
Japan, Alaska, Australia, and New Zealand. Referring to his stay in 
New Zealand, he cheerfully said, " I went to a sheep farm."

Mr. Meyer feels the most important  part of his job is "contributing 
to scientific discovery." Through his work in the astronomy field, he 
has added to the wealth of knowledge about solar eclipses, 
asteroids, comets, stars, galaxies, and quasars. The best part of the 
job for Mr. Meyer is "going home to a warm bed." He enjoys his work 
but values the time he can spend with his wife and three daughters.

Mr. Meyer encourages those interested in science to pursue 
astronomy as a career.  To prepare for the job he suggests that 
students take advanced math and science courses to "learn to think 
like a scientist."  While studying as a student, he worked at the Lick 
Observatory, helping astronomers study the farthest known heavenly 
bodies in the universe, quasars. 

Science is an ongoing learning experience, and astronomers like Mr. 
Allan Meyer contribute to it every day.


[Ed note: This following two articles were written by Nicole Coufal, a 
senior at Leland High School in San Jose, CA]

Biography of Dave Scimeca, an instrument maker for the Kuiper
by Nicole Coufal

It is every little boy's wish come true, to play with toys all day long
and get paid. Yet this is exactly what Dave Scimeca did for many 
years with NASA Ames. For twenty years Mr. Scimeca built the 
models of NASA projects to be tested in the wind tunnels.

These where not just tiny models though. "The models can be up to 
three quarters the size of the actual plane, so huge that they barely 
fit in the eighty by one hundred and twenty foot (80'x120') wind 
tunnel...sometimes their wingtips even brush the sides of the 
tunnel..." commented Mr. Scimeca. There have been many 
innovations in airplane structure since Mr. Scimeca first began
model building. Some of these changes are just now being 
implemented as the fifteen to twenty year testing period comes to an 
end.  One of the changes implemented during Mr. Scimeca's period as 
a model builder is that of the winglets on the tips of an airplane's 
wings to lessen noise and shorten takeoff and landing distances.

A few years ago Mr. Scimeca's interest did a one hundred and eighty
degree turnaround, from model airplane building to astronomy.  Now 
he builds the C.C.D. cameras and spectrometers for the Kuiper and 
hopefully also for SOFIA

Ironically enough, Mr. Scimeca's interests as a child were not 
centered on model building. Instead he says "I have always been 
interested in astronomy, ever since I visited Lick Observatory as a 
child I decided watching the stars was neat and something I wanted 
to do..."  In fact, Mr. Scimeca constructed his hobby telescope himself.  
The ten inch lens alone took sixty five hours to grind and polish.

Mr. Scimeca's flexibility and willingness to suddenly and completely 
change careers is remarkable. From model building to astronomy to 
constructing instrumentation, the variety in his life is representative 
of the variety present within NASA.


Ted Dunham's (almost) perfect job
By Nicole Coufal

The perfect dream job at NASA includes research and travel, new
discoveries as well as adventures into the unknown. For Ted Dunham, the
project scientist for the Kuiper, this is only partially true.  Along with
research in places such as Mt. Kaia, Hawaii, comes the long hours and
paperwork every dream job accompanies behind the scenes.

In 1983, Mr. Dunham was fortunate enough to lead a research 
mission that ranged from Australia to Guam. Similarly, there are 
travel trips throughout the world to prominent research facilities.  
Yet with these exciting trips comes the heaven burden of a project 
scientist. Every person who wants flight time and telescope time on 
the Kuiper must write a proposal to be read by Mr. Dunham and the 
committee. For every new or replaced piece of engineering 
equipment, the committee must review the
design proposals. With privilege comes responsibility.

In order to earn his position, Mr. Dunham had five years of 
undergraduate study at the University of Minnesota, and attended 
Cornell graduate school.  Afterwards, before joining the NASA 
project, Mr. Dunham spent eleven years teaching at M.I.T.

Yet with these heavy credentials, comes the pleasure of becoming 
actively involved with new NASA projects. Even though the Kuiper 
shifts are night shifts, often not ending until 5 a.m., with it comes the 
unique opportunity to do things such as letting a high school student 
flight the Kuiper. Whatever the drawbacks, comes the opportunity 
for something new and exciting that has never been done before.

by Nicole Coufal

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