Living the Dream: Becoming a NASA SEES High School Intern (Part 3)

Author’s Note: This is a series of three posts.

Part 3

Monday, July 24

I loved everything I did within these two weeks, but nothing could compare to this. The Johnson Space Center. Gosh, I haven’t been here since a child, and I saw things that I’d never imagine I would see–like top-notch stuff!

We started off the tour by visiting the Mission Control Center. There’s actually a Historic Mission Control Center and the current Mission Control Center. The Historic Mission Control Center was used during the Apollo missions, and the consoles were greatly less advanced than one smartphone today. It’s crazy to think that that sort of technology had the power to get men to the moon. Unfortunately, the Historic Mission Control Center was being renovated or else we would have been able to go in there and look at it all close-up, but it was still really cool to see in person.

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Historic Mission Control Center
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Current Mission Control Center

After that, we hopped on the bus to NASA’s Atromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division which contained planetary science labs. I got to see the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility where scientists examine moon rocks!

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Moon rocks

Then, we went into a Mars facility to learn more about the Mars rovers and the equipment or instruments on them. By using the smell analysis, rovers can figure out what makes up Mars’ atmosphere.

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Then, we learned more about the NASA Extreme Environmental Mission Operations (NEEMO) where scientists or astronauts can practice underwater challenges similar to outer-space. If you want, you can see the Aquarius Habitat which resides in Key Largo, Florida and its interior. Very cool stuff.

You can’t really see it on the above embedded map, but if you press View larger map, scroll down, and click on one of the photos, you can explore what it looks like inside:

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Then, we went into a lab doing some high pressure experiments to gain insight in how planets were created and what makes them up. I found it amusing that the scientists there could make the atmosphere tainted with inside jokes which surrounded their laboratory.

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We also had a discussion about moon exploration and how the south and north poles have possibilities of a water source.

Then, we got to see a replica size of the International Space Station (ISS)! I even got to meet Dr. Gary Kitmacher who worked on designing the ISS, specifically the Cupola.

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Me with Dr. Gary Kitmacher

Then, I got to see the Neutral Buoyancy Lab! This is where all the new astronauts will be training as a simulation of working in space.

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Later, I saw the Saturn V and got a tour by Norman Chaffee who built part of Saturn V and lived through the Gemini Program and Apollo missions. He explained the rocket science behind the Saturn V and gave us some interesting statistics!

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Me with Norman Chaffee

We wrapped up the most incredible day with a quick stop at a souvenir shop and hopped back on the bus to UT while watching Hidden Figures.

Tuesday, July 25

On Tuesday, we listened to Dr. Byron Tapley talk about the GRACE satellites which are used to measure mass distribution and change. Using GPS satellites to determine the positions of the GRACE satellites, a Gravity Model is created as a result of the satellites’ expansion and retraction.

We spent most of the day mainly doing project work, analyzing all the Meramec River Flood data that we collected and putting together our presentation of all of our findings.

Wednesday, July 26

We started the day off with the Hurricane Alert: Challenger e-Mission in which we all split off into teams to become meteorologists to predict and track storms. It was a fun experience to learn how that process worked. We did specified tasks, but we also needed the other people in our group’s information to complete our tasks. It’s basically like real life jobs which require everyone to chip in and do their part.

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After that, it was basically project work again. We continued to calibrate our data and wrap up our presentation.

Later that night, we went to UT’s well-known Star Party which is held every Wednesday on top of the roof of the Robert Lee Moore Hall. I got to see the moon and Saturn as well!

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Thursday, July 24

On Thursday, we basically spent the whole day finalizing our presentation and practicing it before the finale on Friday.

Friday, July 25

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We presented our presentations at the University of Texas Center for Space Research auditorium as seen on the NASA SEES YouTube channel. We said our goodbyes to our beloved project mentors and headed off to Main Event for some bowling, laser tag, and arcade games.

 

 

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Being a part of the NASA SEES Internship program was such an amazing opportunity. In just two weeks, I made life-long friends and experienced things that I never thought I’d ever experience. Words can’t express my gratitude to all the staff and everyone who made this program possible. I’ve learned so much about remote sensing, and I will miss all the interns that I shared my time with! Thank you for letting me live this beautiful dream turned reality.

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