By Marie McBride, B.S. Space Sciences – Solar Earth and Planetary Science ‘13
During my sophomore year at Florida Tech, I applied for a variety of summer internships. It was a wonderful surprise when I was chosen to be part of the 2011 NASA Lunar and Planetary Science Academy (LPSA). The internship was for 10 weeks at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. My mentor, Dr. David R. Williams, works for the NASA Space Science Data Center. As his intern, I became part of the Apollo Lunar Data Restoration Project.
The Apollo Lunar Restoration Project works to restore historic data from Apollo instruments. Every time the Apollo astronauts went to the moon, part of their mission was to deploy a scientific surface station. I specialized in an instrument called the Dust, Thermal, Radiation Engineering Measurements Package (DTREM) or the Lunar Dust Detector. The DTREM is the only dust and radiation measurement instrument on the surface of the moon. Since information from the instrument was only preserved on microfilm, it was believed by scientists to be irretrievably lost. If we hope to one day return to the moon, it is important to understand the lunar environment from the only instruments to call the surface of the moon their home.
My life has been an amazing whirlwind since I received the internship at NASA Goddard. After being part of LPSA, I realized my love for planetary geology. Also, my mentor was so impressed with the work I completed that he asked me to continue the research part-time through the school year. A year and a half later, I have finally completed the first digital data set from the DTREM instrument. Now I can begin a complete analysis of the data over the next year. My exciting results sparked the interest of the scientific media too, from NASA to Space Daily. Before I knew it, I was doing a press conference at the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting alongside a distinguished professor and an Apollo astronaut who walked on the surface of the moon! It was a dream come true and I could not have asked for a better reward for my hard work.
The following summer and fall I was given another spectacular opportunity. I was selected for an internship as part of the Mars Science Laboratory Team. It was amazing to be a part of a mission of this magnitude. I had the chance to work alongside the science team as they planned rover activities, live on Mars time for three months and meet world-class scientists. It was an unparalleled experience.
My time at Florida Tech has prepared me to excel at my NASA internships. The experiences I have had thus far have been extraordinary. I have had the chance to get hands on research, all while pursuing my undergraduate degree in solar, earth and planetary science. I am excited to see what my future holds.