Fellowship of the ring…
July 5, 2011 1 Comment
Hello all. Wow, this summer is flying and unfortunately I have been skirting my blogging duties, but never fear, I am here with a post.
Firstly, a little update on why I’ve been so quiet. We’ve been quite busy in the lab finishing up proposals. Just to give you an idea, in a two week span my boss had 4 proposals due, meaning the graduate student office was like a sweatshop of proofreaders. All in all we got them all finished and are pretty optimistic about them, but things were pretty hectic for awhile. While all that was going on, I received word from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center that I was awarded one of their Graduate Student Research Program (GSRP) fellowships; basically I guess that means I work for NASA now (life goal #1, accomplished). It’s not really that big of a deal though, it just means that I have my own money to pay my stipend and will allow me to fund my own trips to conferences and buy my own resource materials without having to get paid off my boss’s grants. In return for all of this great NASA funding, I’ll be working with a Goddard scientist (Dr. Thomas Moore) and will have to make trips down to Greenbelt, Maryland to meet with him regularly and attend a symposium down there with all the other fellowship recipients in September. Seems like a pretty sweet deal to me.
In related science news, I spent last week at a scientific conference in Santa Fe, NM (a safe distance from the wildfires- although we could see them on the horizon). The conference, the National Science Foundation‘s (NSF) Geospace Environment Modeling (GEM) annual workshop, was actually a joint session with another group of scientists, NSF’s Coupling, Energetics and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR) and was attended by roughly 400 scientists from all over the world. In case you haven’t figured it out, scientists can be sort of snooty and extremely specialized (read cliquey) when it comes to their science. Because of that there a several different annual conferences that break the larger realm of space physics down into subclasses; GEM is for people who study primarily Earth’s magnetosphere (the realm of influence of Earth’s magnetic field), while CEDAR is for those who focus on the ionosphere (the uppermost layer of Earth’s atmosphere), then of course there’s NSF’s Solar, Heliospheric, and INterplanetary Environment (SHINE) conference that focuses on the Sun and the region between the Sun and Earth. Yeah, lots of sub-categorization and sub-classification, although a lot of these people tend to work on similar things. For example, the research my group does involves the aurora, a phenomena that technically involves both the magnetosphere and ionosphere, but you can’t really be both a CEDAR person and a GEM person (since the conferences are usually held simultaneously in different places). It’s so odd. In any case though, the meeting was very interesting; long days of talks and finally meeting people who I’ll be working with and have been hearing about since I started in the lab. It seems like the sounding rocket community who my lab work with are a great bunch of people, so I’m very excited about that. But now I kind of need a week of recuperation after a week of science; conferences are not for the faint of heart.
So as I get back to the daily grind of laboratory work, I will leave you all with an interesting article from space.com‘s comprehensive coverage of the end of the space shuttle program (Atlantis is slated to launch this Friday, July 8, on the final mission) that asks whether or not the space shuttle program was worth the $209 billion it cost. In my mind it absolutely was; the space shuttle is still to this day the most advanced vehicle ever built by humans. What do you think though?