The Next Chapter

It’s hard to say what this summer has been and what it has meant to me. Working at NASA has been probably the most challenging, but rewarding experiences of my life. It still felt surreal to drive through the gates of a NASA facility to go to work on my last day and I have to say I am really going to miss this place. To work at one of the world’s leading space research facilities has been a humbling experience and it really hit me again last week when I went to go see a presentation with my supervisor. We were watching a presentation by Dr. Piers Sellers when my supervisor turned and said to me, “This room that we are in probably has one of the highest collective IQ’s out of any given room in the world at this moment.” I was given the opportunity to work with top scientists and engineers in the field which I hope to find myself working in again in the future.

I haven’t spent much time in my last few blogs discussing what I was up to at work and that is largely because it is hard to make what I was doing sound interesting through this medium. However, now that my summer here has come to an end, I feel I can sum it up nicely. I was originally tasked with designing a simulation of the Advanced Energetic Pair Telescope (AdEPT) CubeSat instrument. After completing the simulation for a 1U instrument (roughly 10cm x 10cm x 10cm) and performing an extensive analysis of the data, we decided that this satellite wouldn’t be sensitive enough to get much useful scientific data from its mission. I then simulated a larger version of the satellite in a high altitude atmosphere, which is representative of the instrument being flown aboard a high altitude balloon. Again, this flight was found to be unacceptable due to the higher background noise in the upper atmosphere and the short flight time. Finally, we arrived at the consensus that we needed a bigger satellite. So for the last few weeks I redesigned the AdEPT CubeSat from a 1U instrument to a 4U instrument (210cm x 100cm x 210cm). I made the model using SolidWorks and re-ran all of the simulations for the larger instrument. The results for this configuration are promising. Unfortunately I won’t be around to see the project progress through its next stages, but my supervisors have promised to keep me up to date.

While working here, I learned way more than I thought I would before my placement began. I improved upon my programming skills, learned a new programming language (C++), improved my experimental design and analysis skills, learned a lot about radiation interactions in matter, learned about geomagnetic influences on radiation in low Earth orbit, and a lot more that I could write about. It really has been the experience of a lifetime and I am extremely thankful to have gotten this opportunity early in my academic career.

To my readers, I want to thank you for following this journey and for your encouragement along the way. Writing this blog has allowed me to openly write about things which interest me and I hope you all found something interesting in them as well. And as always:
 Thanks for reading.

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