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More in Letters
Internship also included lectures and activities
by Lonnie Labonte
This internship made my summer amazing, I am so fortunate to receive this opportunity and to have been able to experience everything I did this summer. It wasn’t only the trips that were amazing; it was also the work I was able to do and the people I met. I gained experience in my field as an electrical engineer and learned so much about aerospace engineering that I did not know before. This summer was one that I will never forget and would like to thank the Maine Space Grant Consortium along with Alabama Space Grant Consortium and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center for this amazing opportunity.
Lectures and presentations
I was given the opportunity to attend many lectures and presentations over the summer, I learned a great deal from these lectures and the summer wouldn’t have been the same without them. My personal favorite was a presentation we received from Barbara Cohen about the current and future Mars Rovers. I also enjoyed Scott Bolden’s lecture on his project to send a satellite to Jupiter, this project was called Juno. Ricky Howard also gave a very informative presentation on robots. All the presentations were worth attending and educational.
I enjoyed Barbara Cohen’s talk about all the Mars Rovers the most mainly because of the topic. Ever since I was young I enjoyed talking and learning about Mars. Barbara went into detail to describe the mission plans of Spirit and Opportunity, the two identical rovers sent in 2003. She described how both rovers lasted much longer than they were initially designed to last. Each rover was designed to last 90 sols (A sol is a day on Mars), Spirit lasted over 2,500 sols before it got stuck and the mission ended and opportunity has lasted over 3000 sols and is still in operation today. Barbara showed us where on mars each rover was located and where each has traveled. She also talked about Curiosity rover which is on its way to Mars and is planning to land in a small elliptical area in Gale crater next to the Martian mountain of Mount Sharp. She explained that this rover isn’t powered by solar power but by nuclear power so it could last a very long time.
Scott Bolden’s presentation on his Juno satellite was very interesting. Juno is a satellite currently in route for Jupiter. When Juno arrives at Jupiter it will assume an elliptical orbit around Jupiter. It will be responsible for measuring Jupiter’s gravity field and will try to figure out what the core of Jupiter is made of and help solve of the puzzle of how our solar system was created. Scott described how Juno is the first satellite that uses solar power out past the orbit of Mars. Juno is equipped with three very large arrays of solar panels. Juno will spiral through space until it is in orbit with Jupiter it will collect valuable data from Jupiter and a few of its moons.
Ricky Howard’s presentation on robots was very interesting and entertaining. He showed us many different types of robots and many of them I had never seen before. It opened my eyes to technology that is being developed all around the world and showed me what is really possible with robotics.
All of the presentations I attended this summer were very valuable and worth attending I am so grateful for these opportunities and would like to thank all of the presenters who used their time to help educate our group of NASA interns.
The extracurricular activities selected this year by our operations manager were excellent and valuable to my education. Although a few of the activities were solely for fun they added to the experience I gained and usually included team building for our academy. We were so lucky to take a funded trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida and another funded trip to Los Angeles, California. On top of that I went sky diving, white water rafting and attended Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. The activities I participated in made my summer very enjoyable and unique, it was truly like no other summer I have had.
The trip I enjoyed most was the California trip, I was able to tour so many different places all while traveling to a place I had never even been close to before. I was able to tour two NASA centers Dryden and JPL and was able to see SOFIA and actually go inside and see the telescope. SOFIA is a telescope plane that flies to high altitudes to view distant stars and planets. I was also able to see many different planes and Curiosity’s twin rover and its simulation rover to simulate the weight of curiosity on Mars here on Earth. I was also able to do a little sightseeing while in California; I visited Hollywood and Santa Monica Beach and Pier. California was amazing trip the only thing that I wish was different was the amount of time spent there. I would have liked to have an entire week there, but the time I spent there was amazing.
The Florida trip was very enjoyable because I had a little more free time then I did in California. In Florida I visited Cocoa Beach, Kennedy Space Center and Universal Studios. Kennedy Space Center was an amazing visit. I was able to see Atlantis roll over from the OPF to the VAB and take pictures with it as well. This was a truly exciting event for me. I spent a day on Cocoa Beach where I learned how to surf and had an amazing time with the rest of the Robotics Academy. Universal Studios was also very exciting, they had exciting roller coasters and really neat virtual reality rides like the Harry Potter Ride. Florida was a bit more relaxed then California but still a very exciting trip.
Sky diving was one of the best activities I participated in this summer, and if it weren’t so expensive I would go all the time. I had been sky diving once before, but I did a tandem jump the first time, meaning I would be strapped to a professional sky diver and they would do all the work. This time I decided to the accelerated free fall where I was able to learn how to do it myself and control the parachute. Jumping without someone strapped to me was much different and gave me a greater adrenaline rush. I would love to go sky diving again as soon as I can get the money too.
All the activities I participated in this summer were very exciting and thrilling. I enjoyed both of the trips as well as sky diving, space camp and white water rafting. I was also able to go ice skating this summer, which being from Maine I never thought I would do in Alabama.
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