B a r b a r a  T h o m p s o n
Astrophysicist
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
March 9, 1999
Rockets Run on Email

    10:15 am: I somehow manage to track down my boss. He's extremely elusive. Well, elusive's not the word for it. He's in charge of our whole Laboratory for Astronomy and Solar Physics here at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. I talk to him about new people who might be able to come to work at Goddard. I find out that we have money to have three people come here for temporary two-year appointments. (It's very common for a young scientist to work a series of short jobs-long-term or permanent jobs are very scarce, so you have to go from job to job hoping for a "real" one to open up!) I also talk to him about a paper I am trying to complete, so he knows what research I am doing. While I'm talking with him, about 20 different people poke their heads into his office hoping to be able to talk with him, but it's my turn! My boss is very interesting to talk to, so we talk a while about a new solar mission which might be launched in 2004. I hope to work on that project, because it would be a nice continuation of the work I've done on SOHO.

10:45 am: More international interest! One German professor has contacted me because he is going to participate in a workshop for schoolchildren next October. He hopes to use data from SOHO as it is received, so the students can look at "up-to-date" data. I realize that we should contact the schedulers as soon as possible-wouldn't it be horrible if SOHO doesn't receive data at that time? SOHO has a tape recorder, so if we don't have contact with the spacecraft, we can receive the data later in the day. For the rest of the day, I send e-mail messages between the schedulers and the German researcher, discussing the contact schedule and the requirements of the workshop.

Another German researcher (Henry) is interested in completing a study we've done between shock waves on the Sun and radio waves. Henry and a co-worker named Andreas have made several trips to Goddard Space Flight Center, and we've worked on this project for quite a while. It's very interesting-we are beginning to understand how the waves are formed. I also met with Henry in Japan last spring-he is a very good person to work with. I tell Henry that I need a little more time, as this week I will be devoting a lot of my efforts to SOHO, the SERTS telescope, and finishing a different study.

11:15 am: I begin placing phone calls and sending e-mail messages to other scientists here at Goddard, regarding the possible hiring of new temporary scientists. I will try to determine how many of the people I work with know people who are considering applying for one of these appointments. My boss wants me to make sure we fill all three positions, because we have a lot of data to analyze!

11:30 am: The engineer who is working on the production of the shipping compartment for our telescope comes by my office. He is deciding between different cases, and has already gotten the internal foam packing material. We want to be sure the telescope is safe as it travels to New York. He asks me if I have any opinions on the design, but I know that he's done this work for 30 years, so I tell him go ahead with his plans!

11:35 am: I run into another engineer in the hall. Our detector for the rocket experiment is being assembled, and it's working! We're not surprised it's working, but we are certainly relieved. Another problem we don't have!


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