Meet: Ted Roush
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California
Who I Am
I am a planetary scientist who studies the composition of solid surfaces
throughout the solar system. This means that I am interested in the minerals
and rock types found on the surfaces of rocky bodies and the various ices
found on the surfaces of icy bodies. Knowing what these materials are
is important for understanding how the interiors and surfaces of the bodies
originally formed and how they evolved over time.
My work includes telescopic and spacecraft observations, laboratory
work and computer calculations.
My colleagues and I use telescopes located on Earth and on spacecraft
to measure the sunlight that is reflected from the surfaces of objects
in the solar system. We use instruments called spectrometers to measure
the reflected light at different wavelengths, such as blue, green, or
red. Various materials will reflect sunlight differently at each wavelength
and this allows us to identify which material is present on a surface.
We also use spectometers in the laboratory to measure the reflected
light from materials that we think may be on other surfaces. We can compare
these laboratory measurements with our telescopic observations in order
to more clearly understand the telescopic observations.
We can use computers to calculate what the reflectance of individual
materials, or mixtures of materials, would look like at different wavelengths.
By comparing these calculations with the telescopic observations we can
more clearly understand the relative amounts of the materials present
on a surface.
My Career Journey
In high school I did not take many science courses and after I received
my diploma I worked at various odd jobs for about eight years. At that
time I decided to go to college and was very interested in geology, the
study of Earth. During my junior and senior years of college I had the
opportunity to work with a professor who had been involved in obtaining
laboratory reflectance data for geologic minerals. I was facinated by
this ability to determine surface composition and decided to pursue this
interest in graduate school. I selected a graduate program at another
university that had a department that specialized in telescopic observations
and laboratory studies related to understanding surface composition. While
in graduate school I was fortunate to be involved in both aspects of the
work. After completing graduate school I received a position to pursue
this work with an eminant researcher at NASA Ames Research Center. At
Ames the focus of my research took on a new direction by dealing more
with computer calculations of the reflectance of surfaces.
Likes/Dislikes About Career
The best thing about my job is the excitement of discovering new information
about objects within our solar system. The worst thing about my job is
that as time passes I have less time to do everyday science as I spend
more time on management activities.
As a Kid
I was a pretty normal child, I read a lot but on no specific subject.
I loved the out-of-doors and that is why I decided to pursue geology when
I returned to college.
The professor who I worked with during my junior and senior years of
college really helped influence my decision to pursue my research.
I was born in Seattle, Washington but because my father was in the military
we moved to various cities while I was growing up, including: Kobe, Japan;
El Paso, Texas; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; New Haven, West Virgina, and Seattle,
Washington. For graduate school I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii and after
completing school I moved to Redwood City, California. Recently my wife
and I moved to Livermore, California where we currently reside. On occassion,
I still enjoy the opportunity to go for a hike, or a bike ride. With winter
coming, my wife and I hope to be able to go cross-country skiing soon.
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