UPDATE: That's all the time we have for today! Thanks so much for joining us for today's AMA. Let's do it again soon!

From engineers to scientists to technicians to astronauts to pilots, the talented women of NASA are making history each and every day. In honor of Women’s History Month, some women of NASA will answer questions about what it’s like to work at NASA and their contributions to the mission of exploration.

Participants include:

· Lara Kearney - Deputy Project Manager for Gateway

· Wendy Okolo - Aerospace Research Engineer at Ames Research Center

· Liz Ruth - Pilot for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

· Janelle Wellons – Instrument Operations Engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

· Jennifer Wiseman – Senior Astrophysicist at Goddard Space Flight Center & Project Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope

Proof: https://twitter.com/WomenNASA/status/1106221960218984449

Comments: 137 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

MrTorguesBandit15 karma

First, thank you to each and every one of you for all the work you do! You are all super badass and a big inspiration to women, especially those like myself, who work in a male dominated industry.

What project did you work on that was so awesome it almost seemed surreal?

nasa16 karma

Hi, this is Janelle! Thank you for that awesome confidence boost - it is much appreciated :) I would have to say that the project that was the most surreal for me was the Cassini mission. I was fortunate enough to be one of the (if not, the) last hires on the project. It was my job to operate the Instrument Science Subsystem (ISS) and Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) instruments to take those beautiful images and thermal maps of Saturns moons and rings. I was filled with so much excitement and nervousness leading my first sequence of generating and validating the commands for the instruments, especially since this was my first job post-college! To see the product of those commands, see the images that were produced - it almost made me cry to see how beautiful Saturn was and digest that we, Cassini, was there. And to be there during the Grand Finale was just magical. Seeing the team come together to celebrate a spacecraft that spend ~20 years in space was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I really do feel honored to have been a part of the journey.

nasa13 karma

Hi, this is Wendy and thank you! My first year at NASA, I worked on a LearnToFly project. This was literally a way to teach a drone about itself IN FLIGHT so it could learn to fly. Kind of like birds learning to fly for the first time. With typical aircraft design, you do quite a bit of modeling and simulation in the design and development phase before the aircraft actually flies. This project was an attempt to reduce that design and development phase. How cool! -WAO

nasa10 karma

I see a lot of beautiful sights from the cockpit of my airborne observatory, SOFIA. One of the most surreal was on a mission down near Antarctica, where we were surrounded by the southern lights (Aurora Australis) for hours. It was absolutely stunning. -Liz

nasa9 karma

The project I was involved with that seemed the most awesome was the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission 4 back in 2009. This was the last Space Shuttle mission to the Hubble Telescope, and the Hubble team worked for years to prepare for this mission. Astronauts installed new science instruments and repaired other science instruments and also replaced batteries and gyroscopes on this multi-day mission in space. As an astrophysicist, I helped with science communication and advising, and it was very exciting to be interacting side-by-side with other scientists, engineers, technicians, managers, astronauts, astronaut trainers, communicators, teachers, and media for a very exciting mission. Thankfully the mission was very successful, and because of that the science we are achieving with Hubble even today is top-notch. So it was awesome to work with such a diverse NASA and public team on this fantastic mission. It seemed surreal to work in the mission control rooms during the mission. Good question! -Jennifer W.

neko_designer11 karma

Do astronauts get time off when they are at the ISS or is just work work work? And if they do, what leisure activities are the most popular?

nasa24 karma

Hi, this is Lara!

Yes, they definitely get time off when they are on the ISS. They use their available free time to do some of the same things they would do back here on earth, like reading books, watching movies, and listening to music. Some of them have even brought their own instruments on board. One of their favorite things to do is to look out the window and take pictures of the earth.

_KRT20_8 karma

Will the curiosity rover ever be recovered to see the effects of Mars?

nasa6 karma

Curiosity is alive and well on Mars! Follow its progress here: @MarsCuriosity

NASA did declare Opportunity Rover's mission complete on Feb 13, 2019 and sent a parting panorama shot of the Red Planet here: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/opportunitys-parting-shot-was-a-beautiful-panorama

Lijazos8 karma

Do you know anyone at NASA who likes to play Kerbal Space Program?

nasa8 karma

Yes! I have plenty of friends who have spent many hours playing the game. Even though I consider myself a video gamer, I have yet to play Kerbal Space Program. I am ashamed! lol Fun fact though, the game actually uses some code developed by JPL called SPICE: (https://naif.jpl.nasa.gov/naif/toolkit.html). It is open source and many of our projects use it. - Janelle

squid50s6 karma

What’s the coolest space fact you know?

nasa6 karma

Hello this is Jennifer W. --

I think the coolest fact is that there are at least 200 billion galaxies (each with billions of stars) in our observable universe. And considering the possibility that many or most of those stars have planets, we live in a universe filled with other interesting worlds! Check out the Hubble Space Telescope Ultra-Deep Field...

http://hubblesite.org/image/1457/gallery

Aware_building5 karma

With a bachelors or masters degree in project management how can I begin a career with NASA?

nasa7 karma

Hi, this is Lara.

Project Management is a very important role here at NASA. Keeping our programs and projects on cost and schedule is as critical as making sure they are technically sound. There are many ways to work with NASA, including working directly at NASA as a civil servant, working for a NASA support contractor or working for a commercial space company. You'll want to think about which of those options bests suits you, along with whether you have any geographical preferences. For working at NASA directly, you can find available job opportunities on USAJobs.

Aware_building4 karma

Would you please share who some NASA support companies are? I will be graduating next year and would love to start researching now as working for NASA has always been a goal of mine since leaving the military.

nasa7 karma

Here is a link to the support contactors at Johnson Space Center. You should be able to find the same kind of list on the websites for the other NASA centers.

JSC support contractors

nasa5 karma

Aware_building1 point · 4 minutes ago

Would you please share who some NASA support companies are? I will be graduating next year and would love to start researching now as working for NASA has always been a goal of mine since leaving the military.

Check our our press release on nine U.S. companies that were eligible to work with NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts, as one of the first steps toward long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/774/nasa-announces-new-partnerships-for-commercial-lunar-payload-delivery-services/

If you’re a small business owner, please visit our Office of Small Business Program for more info: https://osbp.nasa.gov/useful-links.html

cbrian135 karma

What is your favorite facility (e.g. wind tunnel, test cell, etc.) at NASA?

nasa8 karma

Hi, this is Lara!

My personal favorite is the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at Johnson Space Center, the huge water tank we use to train our astronauts to perform space walks.

nasa7 karma

I am going to have to go with my airplane, SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infra-Red Astronomy). It's a one-of-a-kind Boeing 747-100SP with the world's largest airborne telescope in the back. -Liz

nasa5 karma

My favorite facility at JPL is the Spacecraft Flight Operations Facility. It is a historic building that is the coolest looking place on lab (at least to me!). The facility is home to all the data trafficking to and from various American and international spacecraft throughout the solar system and beyond (check out Voyager 1 and 2). It is also home to the "Center of the Universe" and it was the first building I worked in when I started. It is also one of the many places that you can see if you come to JPL's annual Open House! - Janelle

VegetasOtherSon4 karma

I'm a bartender and I have to deal with conspiracy theorists pretty often. Most of them I can tolerate or even humor but I draw a hard line in the sand at flat earthers. Can you give me an "explain like I'm five years old" summary to prove to them the world is indeed a fkn sphere?

nasa5 karma

Hi,

Plenty of good science to refer to here (and our experience with satellites and ships and flight!), but for starters, NASA images of Earth from space show our beautiful nearly-spherical planet, and our images of other planets in our Solar System likewise show spherical shapes which are formed by the physics involved. Check out a great NASA web site on what we know about Earth and what we learn from geodesy and other sciences: https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/nasa-knows/what-is-earth-58.html

regularlyfe4 karma

How friendly is the physics research environment at NASA to various minority groups, particularly transgender folk?

nasa3 karma

Here at NASA, our strength is in our diversity! Even the handful of us participating in today’s AMA represent diversity, including minority groups. Learn more about how the agency provides leadership for diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity: https://www.nasa.gov/offices/odeo/home.

FoxySatyr3 karma

How much of a role does data visualization / data science play in helping out your roles? Any particular cases that come to mind?

nasa5 karma

Hi, this is Jennifer W. --

Certainly data visualization is central to communicating observations from telescopes like the Hubble Space Telescope, especially when we are observing light in colors different than what our eyes can see (like ultraviolet light). Check out nasa.gov/hubble and hubblesite.org.

budsonguy3 karma

Where does the poop go in outer space?

nasa6 karma

On the space station, it is sealed inside a plastic bag and hauled off the next space trash day.

movingglaciers3 karma

What is the culture like at your site? Have you worked at other sites and noticed a difference?

nasa3 karma

The culture at JPL is one of the many reasons why I was drawn to it. It feels and works very much like a meritocracy and people here are incredibly humble (with a few exceptions of course). People love their jobs here and as a result from that, they are open and eager to talk to anyone about it. This means that someone who is new to JPL (like me) can have access to "higher ups" after sending an email, making a phone call, or just running into them in the lunch room. It really feels like you are valued as a person and it just makes you want to do the best job that you can in return. I cannot speak about the other sites as I have not been, but JPL is truly wonderful.

torripsamments3 karma

Is there a difference on how the SOFIA handles when the telescope door is closed and when it's opened, and if you could fly any air/spacecraft what would you want to fly?

How does a typical day at the office look like for you?

nasa3 karma

One of the most impressive things about the design of SOFIA is that there is absolutely no change in flight characteristics when the door is open. We had to have the engineers put a light in the cockpit so we would know when the door was open.

I love flying SOFIA, but I would be happy in any craft that would take me higher, further, faster.

A typical mission day in 14 hours, with the entire airborne portion being flown during night hours. The aircrew meets and conducts a briefing together that covers the flights plan, the weather, the aircraft maintenance status, and the planned projects for the night. Then we have a briefing with the mission scientists and telescope/instrument scientists. We go over some of the same topics with the larger group and also talk about the specific observations they will be doing throughout the flight. Once we get out to the airplane, all the different crewmembers preflight their specific area and we work hard to get an on-time takeoff. Airborne, we get up to altitude so we can open the door and start observing. The pilots are in constant communication with the Mission Director to adjust our speed and heading to be at each turn point within two minutes of the planned time. At the end of the flight, we close the door before descending and landing. After the flight, we all have some paperwork to do, then we head home, close the curtains and try to sleep! -Liz

SCLomeo3 karma

Hi. I am an aspiring aerospace engineer. I was wondering how teaming and projects collaboration works in NASA. How many people are on a team for specific projects? How are these teams structured?

nasa4 karma

Hello this is Wendy! NASA has over a dozen centers and facilities and quite frequently we work across these various centers to achieve mission objectives. Both of my projects involve cross center collaboration. One project involves drone safety assurance and for that, I work closely with a team at NASA’s Langley Research Center. We share data, have biweekly cross center meetings, and check in with each other regularly. For my second project, we formed a team of early career researchers at Ames and NASA’s Johnson Space Center, wrote a proposal, and won a grant to investigate precision guidance and control techniques for entry vehicles. Thus, team structures and sizes vary and there are multiple opportunities for collaboration within and outside centers. -WAO

juliaastley3 karma

I currently have a masters degree in space science & engineering, and work in operations at a telecoms company. I’d love to do a PhD and would eventually want to specialise in spacecraft propulsion subsystem engineering - do you think I should continue gaining experience in space industry or try and start a PhD as soon as possible? I feel like I’m stuck in a loop of not being smart enough for the jobs I want because I don’t have a PhD, but not being smart enough to do a PhD because I don’t have enough experience yet. Please help!

nasa4 karma

Hi,

This is Jennifer W. -- I'm glad for your interest in getting involved in the space enterprise! Both pathways you describe are promising. One idea to consider is to go ahead with your education but get internship and research experiences during your degree program (summers, campus research opportunities, etc.).

You will gain good experience as part of your Ph.D. education -- at least that was my experience!

Best wishes

nasa3 karma

Hello, this is Wendy. If you would like to work in spacecraft propulsion systems, try to do a move to that industry. I would also recommend pursuing a Ph.D. Aerospace is an exciting field to work in. Continue to work hard and find opportunities to build your experience in that field. -WAO

mygpamakesmekms3 karma

Any tips to becoming a NASA engineer for those who are discouraged? How did you get through the discrimination? I’m currently a second year female engineering student studying aerospace engineering, and this field is highly competitive and hard to get internships in.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

nasa4 karma

Hi! This is Janelle. I can relate to your discouragement. When I was applying to internships for JPL while in college, the first step was to meet the recruiters at the career fair. While waiting in line to talk to one, I could overhear my classmates talking about all of the amazing things they were doing. I also studied Aerospace Engineering in school, and it was not uncommon for my classmates to be working on projects that were actually going to be sent to space. I didn't feel like I had anything to compete with that, despite my efforts inside the classroom and in various clubs. But instead of losing hope, I let that challenge drive me for the following years. Each year I applied and didn't hear back, I used that to fuel my drive to come back better and more competitive. I spent 3 years with no luck landing the internship. But, my senior year, the culmination of improving myself, pursing my passions, and actively building my skillset outside of the classroom got me the attention of not one, but three hiring supervisors at JPL. So the moral of this story is to not give up! You are amazing, you are studying a tough major, and you should pride yourself for stepping up to the challenge in the first place. I believe in you!

nasa3 karma

You're right, it definitely is highly competitive and tough to get internships. Under federal civil rights laws, NASA must refrain from discrimination based on on gender, race, disability, age etc. Just keep working hard, stick to your goals, don't give up, and keep looking for opportunities.

I got my BS and ME degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Texas A&M University. I spent the first 8 years of my career as a NASA contractor and I everntually got an opportunity to join NASA as a civil servant.

nasa3 karma

Hello this is Wendy and I am an aerospace research engineer here at NASA’s Ames Research Center, so yes, it is a highly competitive field but I can share how I got my internships as an undergraduate. Get involved in student chapters of organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). These organizations typically have conferences with career fairs where you can meet and network directly with recruiters at NASA! As a NASA employee, I have attended some of those myself and directly recruited my current intern last fall at a conference in Detroit! Also reach out to the community of awesome NASA interns here: https://intern.nasa.gov -WAO

mariravenrose3 karma

Where would the most suitable place in the universe be to go if we couldn’t theoretically live on earth anymore?

nasa10 karma

Where would the most suitable place in the universe be to go if we couldn’t theoretically live on earth anymore?

Hi! This is Janelle. As a former Cassini engineer, I want to give you a more interesting answer than the standard Mars or Moon response. How about we consider one of the water worlds in our solar system - Titan. Titan is the largest moon of Saturn, larger than the planet Mercury even, so I think we could settle with plenty room. Now as for the conditions on the surface - not as rough as you may think. Titan is the only place besides Earth known to have liquids in the form of lakes and seas on its surface. These liquids are made of methane but, armed with the right kind of protective gear, one could theoretically be able to swim without harm! It has a thick atmosphere that could help protect us from space radiation. It is so dense that we could actually attach wings to our arms and fly on this moon. I don't know, it just seems like an awesome place to live.

King_Panda_I3 karma

When NASA make the Gateway space station will they join the ESA and China in the Lunar Village concept?

nasa3 karma

Gateway

Hi, it's Lara!

We are in the process of negotiating with several international partners on how we collaborate to establish the Gateway. In fact, just last week, a Multi-Lateral Coordination Board joint statemement was signed by the international partners stating their interest in participateion. You can read about it here:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/multilateral-coordination-board-joint-statement

movingglaciers3 karma

What’s your day to day like? What kinds of technical and non-technical skills are most important for what you do?

nasa5 karma

Hello this is Wendy! As an aerospace research engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center, I currently lead teams on two completely different projects: one to increase drone safety in the national airspace and the other to increase precision targeting for entry vehicles. My day to day typically involves meetings with my teams that always turn into technical pow wows, status briefings to upper management, meetings with my interns where I’m typically writing on my board, algorithm development and analysis typically in Matlab, and responding to/sending emails.

Technical skills for my discipline are of course a solid foundation in math, physics, flight mechanics, aerodynamics, controls, etc and proficiency in a programming language or two. Non-technical skills include reading and writing. I have a Ph.D. and have to not just do the work, I also have to disseminate it internally and externally. Ideally, you also want to have people skills too, you typically will not be working in a vacuum. Even in space :-) WAO

nasa4 karma

What’s your day to day like? What kinds of technical and non-technical skills are most important for what you do?

Hi! This is Janelle. I am an instrument operations engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. My job responsibilities range from making sure that the instruments that I operate are functioning and performing the way they should be and generating the commands that they use to gather awesome science data. Generally, my day-to-day is as follows:

I come in to work and verify that all the scheduled commands for the previous day executed as expected. Then I will check the instrument’s telemetry channels (this is information about how the instrument is performing such as voltages, currents, error counters, etc.) to see if there is any anomalous behavior. If all looks good, I will then receive the plans for the next day, week, or month (depending on the mission) from the science team and use those plans to generate the commands for the instrument. These commands will be checked to make sure that they do not put the instrument or the mission in harm’s way, and then passed to the mission operations center to be uplinked to the spacecraft for execution. This is a cyclic process and I am on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond in case anything on the instrument doesn’t look right. I spend the other half of my day developing the systems that will be used to perform instrument operations such as this.

Writing scripts and developing software systems to make my job more efficient are the technical skills that I find most important. Communicating with my internal and external teams and presenting in front of interested parties are the soft skills I find most important. Being friendly really does go a long way!

urajoke3 karma

What is your favorite story to tell about something that happened at your job?

nasa3 karma

Hi, this is Lara!

One of my favorite stories to tell is about the day Garth Brooks unexpectedly showed up in my building at Johnson Space Center. What was awesome was to hear him talk about how cool he thought we were, when we were thinking how cool we thought he was! It was great to see him and Trisha so excited about the space program.

Sereneforestrz3 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA Question for Liz, what are the applications of infrared astronomy and any recent exciting discovery that you want to share with us?

nasa5 karma

I am glad to talk to someone who likes astronomy! My job on SOFIA is to fly the jet so the scientists can do their work with the telescope, so the actual astronomy part is not my expertise. We have several science different teams that are working on various projects, but there is a big emphasis on studying the origins of the universe by mapping starburst galaxies to see how stars are formed. They are also looking at the center of our galaxy, especially the big black hole in the middle. A recent project that SOFIA helped with was getting data about the object MU69, now called Ultima Thule, in preparation for the New Horizons flyby this last January. -Liz

ThProphet3 karma

How ambitious is NASA with its future plans of planet exploration?

nasa6 karma

How ambitious is NASA with its future plans of planet exploration?

Hello, Janelle here. NASA is certainly moving forward with some great projects to explore other planets, moons, and bodies in our universe. I work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and here we are currently planning the next Mars rover, a Mars sample return mission, and even a Mars helicopter. We also are developing Europa Clipper, a spacecraft that will explore the icy, galilean moon of the same name at Jupiter. In addition to that, we have a slew of Earth missions planned (Earth is a planet too! :). I am currently working to develop an earth-based mission called the Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols. This mission is near and dear to my heart because it is the first time NASA has partnered with epidemiologists and health organizations to use space-based data to study human health and improve lives. And don’t forget our successful landing of Insight on Mars just last November! We have no plans on slowing down, it is an exciting time to be at NASA right now :)

ThProphet3 karma

This is quite a lot of exciting work, are there any concerns about funding. I would doubt that anything you mentioned is in any danger but have you noticed any limitations to potential projects due to inconsistanat government budgets.

nasa3 karma

We have actually been doing quite well funding-wise! There are certainly projects that can end up on the chopping block for a variety of reasons, but for our major endeavors I have confidence in consistent funding.

bloodymake2 karma

Does Tom Hanks ever just show up and sit in random shuttles and make space flying sounds?

nasa3 karma

Hah! He did have a chance to experience weightlessness aboard NASA's KC-135 aircraft back in 1994 with his "Apollo 13" cast. Check it out: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/about/history/jsc40/jsc_gallery_people_image33.html

Sereneforestrz2 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA the question is for Jennifer, recently for the first time we were able to see planet formation around a star, what are the immediate applications of this observation and would it be helpful in understanding the formation of our Solar System?

nasa4 karma

Hi,

It is truly amazing that we can now detect disks of dusty material orbiting stars, the zones of planet formation. We're using a variety of telescopes in space and on the ground to study the details of these planet-forming zones around different kinds of stars. Our telescopes are often best suited for studying these regions when we observe in radio and infrared light; this can help us peer into these dense regions.
Absolutely it is helpful for us to learn how this process is proceeding around other young stars, so that we can compare with our own Solar System and infer how our own planetary system formed. The upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will bring great advances in this kind of research. Thanks for your interest!

-Jennifer W.

Sporkicide2 karma

What got you interested in space?

nasa5 karma

I grew up in the Mojave Desert, and the night skies were incredible--I never tire of looking at the stars and wondering what is out there. I was probably also influenced by TV shows like Star Trek. There is something so optimistic about exploring new places that appeals to me. -Liz

nasa5 karma

Hi, this is Jennifer W. here --

I got interested in space when I was growing up in a rural area, able to see plenty of stars at night filling the night sky. I liked to imagine what it would be like to explore all those star systems. Then I saw some very cool images from NASA probes like Voyager sending back images of the moons around planets in our solar system. It was amazing to me that we humans could explore such exotic alien worlds by putting our engineering know-how and astronomy and curiosity to work. So I wanted to get involved! I didn't know how, but went on studying science and paying attention to space opportunities when I was in college. I'm so glad that space exploration unifies people around the world who are curious about our amazing beautiful universe.

sidecar9182 karma

I have 2 daughters (8 and 5) who both love space. What advice would you give to a young girl that wants to purse a career with NASA?

nasa5 karma

Hello this is Wendy and I love to hear about young girls interested in space. I would tell the young girl to hold on to her dreams. I would tell her that everything is for everyone and there is no mold that a scientist or engineer has to fit into. You may like to pull things apart or not. You may like cars or not. You may be a genius and have all the answers or you may just have an intellectual curiosity and have many questions. Just do your homework, stay curious, and remember that NASA needs and wants this diversity in thought, people, and work for the good of all humankind! -WAO

nasa3 karma

level 1sidecar9181 point · 1 minute agoI have 2 daughters (8 and 5) who both love space. What advice would you give to a young girl that wants to purse a career with NASA?

Participating in NASA early is a great start! Your daughters can apply for an internship starting at 16 years old: https://intern.nasa.gov/ NASA also has activities and challenges for students K-12 such as FIRST Robotics Challenge, NASA Student Launch, and may more. Check out our link: https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/index.html

[deleted]1 karma

Is there a similar program for people who'll just be applying for college in the fall? I was a star student in high school, and my first attempt at college didn't go well (long story). Planning on trying again this fall since my passion returned.

nasa3 karma

Check out our Pathways Program, which is open to 16 year olds to graduate schools: https://www.nasa.gov/careers/pathways-program

carolinecox152 karma

What are your thoughts on the very first all-female spacewalk happening later this month?

nasa5 karma

The timing and planning of space walks and mission operations is always dynamic, so anything can change, but we are really excited about Anne and Christina being scheduled for the first all-female space walk, especially during Women's History Month. With the last two astronaut classes being close to 50% female, I think we'll see more and more of these opportunities in the future.

nasa3 karma

It is exciting that this particular spacewalk, which was originally slated to take place in the fall of 2018, is now happening on Women’s History Month! Also, with the ongoing hiring strategy of NASA, all-female spacewalks may not be rare for long :)

carolinecox152 karma

Who are some women (in your field or not) you looked up to when you were starting out in your career?

nasa5 karma

Having someone to look up to is really important. I wanted to be a pilot from as early as I can remember, growing up on a military base with low-flying jets screaming overhead all day long. I never envisioned myself doing that kind of flying, though, because at the time all the military and airline pilots I ever saw were men--I just thought I would fly a private airplane as a hobby. That all changed when the first woman Navy jet pilot, Rosemary Mariner, was assigned to our base. All of a sudden, I could see exactly what I wanted to do for a career. She took time to meet with me and gave me advice on how to pursue flying in the military. I greatly admired her grace and professionalism, and I strived to emulate her as well as I could. -Liz

jaitogudksjfifkdhdjc2 karma

I’m going to graduate as a Mechanical Engineer next year and haven’t been hired by any internships because they say I lack experience (or other reasons). How hard will it be to find employment after graduation? I have a 3.0 GPA.

nasa3 karma

Hi this is Wendy! Networking and mentors can help you land the internships and opportunities needed for employment in your field - even after graduation. I would also consider pursuing a graduate degree in mechanical engineering. Also, check out internship opportunities at NASA: https://intern.nasa.gov. - WAO

TheStrplum2132 karma

What do you do when you're bored?

nasa3 karma

Hello, this is Wendy and frankly I have never been bored for once while working at NASA. One of the cool things about working here is that there are so many exciting projects and I’ve gotten the opportunity to do very different things. I am currently on one project for drones and another for entry vehicles. For the drones, I am looking into predicting safety issues that could arise during flight so that we can prevent them from happening. That is significantly different for the entry vehicle for which I am using novel control techniques to guide and steer a vehicle to its destination on Earth or another planet during entry. Also, at NASA you don’t just get to do the work, you also share it with the world at conferences and seminars so you get to see what other people are doing and get excited all over again! -WAO

[deleted]2 karma

Hi NASA folk! I'm a trans woman who is extremely interested in space travel (I love the maths of it while playing Kerbal Space Program and flying to the Mun)

A. I know that JPL references "milli-pirateninjas" sometimes. Are there any other pop culture references inside NASA's work culture?

B. What can I do to help space travel before I apply for college (take two!) this fall? Just advocacy and spreading knowledge, or is there more?

nasa3 karma

Hello! This is Janelle here. So to answer your questions:

A. Yes, there certainly is! We have a lot of acronyms at JPL, and I have come across one called JEDI since working here. Pretty sure that is not a coincidence lol. You will also find that many offices are decorated with star wars, star trek, and other space themed items.

B. Firstly, thank you so much for your enthusiasm, and congratulations for being in the process of applying for college! We actually have a public outreach program offered at JPL called the Solar System Ambassadors. If you love space and want to spread the word you can sign up and learn more about ti here: https://solarsystem1.jpl.nasa.gov/ssa/home.cfm. Also, citizen science is still a very important facet of conducting research. Find out more about that here: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/361/citizen-scientists/.

[deleted]1 karma

:( There's no Solar System Ambassador in my area. Closest is New Paltz which is over a half hour away

nasa1 karma

Okay, well citizen science is something that can be done anywhere! I hope you are able to check that out and see if it interests you. Otherwise, your efforts to spread the word about NASA are great ways to stay involved. Thank you!

redpillbomb-3 karma

The thing that impresses me most about NASA is not only your groundbreaking ventures into space, but also in areas that you might not typically associate with a space organization. For instance, swimming and digital computer artistry.

For example, do you know which designer created this image? Was it Robert Simmon or another digital artist? https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/system/resources/detail_files/696_dscovrepicmoontransitfull.gif

nasa7 karma

Hi, this is Jennifer W. --

I don't know who was the designer for that cool transit pic, but I agree it is impressive how many ventures beyond space exploration that NASA inspires, including art, literature, music, technology, computers, medical imaging, and more. Check out the ways the Hubble Space Telescope technology has contributed to a wide array of other interests:

https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-technology-transfer