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Online From Jupiter 97

Terry Martin

Photopolarimeter Radiometer Science Coordinator

My Field Journals

Hello, my name is Terry Martin. They call me the Science Coordinator for the PPR instrument on Galileo. What that means is that I make sure the best possible observations are made with the PPR, to get the most science out of it. The PPR is like a light meter for a camera; it has a small telescope, about 10 cm in diameter, and points in the same direction as the camera and other remote sensing instruments on Galileo's scan platform - the part that can point different directions in space, and moves around to cover certain parts of Jupiter or its satellites. The PPR can measure the temperature of those bodies, by sensing their infrared radiation, as well as the light they reflect.

My job is to select observations that will cover Jupiter and its satellites so that we can best study their clouds, surface markings,and temperature. I try to make sure we cover Jupiter both north to south, at a variety of angles, and over time as the clouds move around. Also,there are special observations made of selected target features like the Great Red Spot (GRS). I make sure that when all the instruments look together at the GRS, PPR is covering the same areas as the other teams' instruments.

I also act as the contact between the project staff here at JPL and the science team members, who are mostly at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, near Columbia University. I have to make sure they know what is happening that could affect their science plans. Also, I tell the project what concerns the scientists have.

You might have guessed that I'm a scientist myself. That's part of the arrangement; scientists are best able to decide how to get the most out of the science instruments on Galileo.

I have been an astronomer at heart since age 11, when I looked at Mars with a 1-inch diameter telescope, saw its reddish disk, and was hooked. I drew constellation maps, read Edgar Rice Burroughs fantasy books about Mars, and was galvanized by the Russian Sputnik launch in 1957.

Preparing for a career in science was just a matter of staying interested in relevant classes in school: math, science, chemistry, physics, English (you can't do anything without English).

The best thing about my job is the satisfaction of affecting the work done by NASA's flagship interplanetary research spacecraft, as it cruises millions of miles from Earth, and knowing that the exploration done by it will make history.

The least happy part of the job is going to endless meetings. They are necessary with a complex spacecraft project to keep everyone informed about things that might be problems, because lots of little things can go wrong if no one thinks about them. I try to make the best use of my time in meetings by carrying other work in with me.

As a kid, I was pretty curious about how things worked, which is what physics is all about. The challenge was to stay curious, in the face of all those math problems and homework. I read a lot of science fiction, which kept my imagination going. I could see that space exploration was going to happen in my lifetime, so I figured I could be a part of it. I advise that you search your heart for what interests you most, and then stay after that as long as you can. Don't be discouraged by boring problems or teachers. Find the fun.

I feel I owe the most to those science fiction authors who got my interest going in the direction of astronomy.

My daughter just started 7th grade, and is thinking of taking an astronomy class after school this year. She likes skiing, tennis, soccer, keyboard, guitar, computer games, art. We try to play tennis every week together, and I am teaching her guitar chords so she can do some songs with her friends. We are also studying a neat cartoon book on mountain biking, and trying to master some of the trick moves. I go mountain biking weekends, do tennis when I can. We ski a few times each winter at Mammoth Lakes as a family. All three of us tried sport rock climbing this past summer.

We have a wonderful Labrador retriever, Amy, a very old cat, Ashley, and an assortment of goldfish with names also starting with A.

In spare time, I keep the house from falling apart, keep plants and ants from invading the premises, and otherwise oppose the eventual heat death of the universe. I sing in a small madrigal group, and spend late evenings at the computer working on writing. Bach is my favorite composer, and if I had my way I would read, listen to music, write, and work hard on large acreage with lots of trees, somewhere between the Carolinas and California.

 

 
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