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.
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.