Transcript for "Winter School Class of 2017"



JACOB RICHARDSON: The Planetary Science Winter School is a program for early career scientists and postdocs like myself, to come together for the first time and see how a mission goes from just a science concept to something that could actually fly in space one day.


GIADA ARNEY: The Winter School is a great hands-on experience, because it gives us the ability to actually get involved with the design of a real mission that might actually fly some day.


JACOB RICHARDSON: We actually are trying to develop an instrument concept for a client, and we figure out, "Is it feasible? How much does it cost? How much does it weigh?" And so we have things like volume, mass, and power to deal with for this entire week.


PRABAL SAXENA: My role in the Planetary Science Winter School was working with the thermal systems leads. We looked at our instrument and we have to determine how to handle things related to temperature stability, gradients, but also the environment that you're in.


JACOB RICHARDSON: My role was flight software and electrical. I got to team up with two mentors in my case so I think I'm double lucky. I had no idea, since I'm a scientist I've never really done anything on the electrical back end of something scientific, so this is a really great opportunity for me to see everything that goes on in design.


GIADA ARNEY: My role in the Winter School was basically figuring out, "What is the design of the detector that we want?" We learned on the first day of the study that there was going to be a second type of detector, and so what I was fascinated by was just watching people roll with that new information. So there's a lot of organized chaos that comes together, where people sort of don't really know what they're doing at first.


PRABAL SAXENA: I think that's something you see in science in general, as you start to do more work you realize how much goes into things.


JACOB RICHARDSON: We just sort of run around talking to each other, saying, "I have a problem with this. How do we solve this?" And together we figure it out.


PRABAL SAXENA: The engineering part of a mission really in some ways is the controlling part of what type of science you get to do, and it's incredibly important for scientists to understand that.


GIADA ARNEY: Now I've seen what it takes to develop these instruments from the engineering side, and so in the future when I come back on the customer side where I have an instrument that I want to have built by the IDL lab, I'll understand what information the engineering team needs in order to do that effectively.


JACOB RICHARDSON: So I think one of the next steps in my career, in the next five or ten years, is to actually become an instrument scientist. The only way to really start that process of learning how to do those things is something like this, an opportunity like the Planetary Science Winter School.


PRABAL SAXENA: When you're thinking about scientific topics, it's really thinking in terms of angels on pinheads, where you have this concept that's very high-level and that isn't necessarily well-formulated in terms of a plan to get data. And I think the Planetary Science Winter School helps you take the science that's in your mind and try to apply it to the real world, to something that's more tangible.