Think your Job is Tough?

I had the pleasure of working on a great story for our next homepage feature. It’s about SDSU astronomy professor Bill Welsh, who’s one of nine astronomers chosen to be a Participating Scientist on NASA’s Kepler Mission Science Team. The story will have more details, but basically Kepler is the first mission capable of finding Earth-size planets beyond our solar system. Bill’s role is to offer his expertise and provide additional research to the mission’s main science group.

United Launch Alliance's Delta II rocket carrying NASA's Kepler spacecraft

United Launch Alliance's Delta II rocket carrying NASA's Kepler spacecraft

I met with Bill after he got back from the launch to get more information for my story. I had woken up at 4:30 a.m. that morning to do live interviews for SDSU Month, so needless to say, I was a zombie by the time our 10:30 a.m. meeting came around.

As we stood in line at Starbucks, I apologized to Bill in advance if I seemed a bit out of it, explaining that I had been awake for quite some time. He made a comment about my job being hard, which I found hilarious considering what he does for a living.

Anyway, we had a fascinating conversation, and I was inspired by the part about Bill Borucki, Kepler’s principal investigator. “This is a man who’s got patience,” Bill said. Borucki had been working on Kepler for over 20 years and faced a lot of criticism and doubts along the way. NASA rejected the mission a few times, but he never gave up and was finally able to prove to them that it would work.

By the end of our conversation, I had learned two important lessons: 1) patience and perseverance do pay off and 2) if you think your job is tough, at least NASA isn’t counting on you not to screw up their latest mission.

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