On December 26th, 2017 we were able to get a private tour of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, courtesy of Sandra Vilevac. It was so amazing to get this wonderful opportunity and see for ourselves just a small piece of the work that NASA, here at the Goddard Center, is accomplishing to improve our understanding of deep space exploration. We were able to catch a glimpse of the James Webb Space Telescope, which is under construction right now at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which is managing the development effort. This infrared telescope is planned to launch in French Guiana in October of 2018. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), previously known as the "Next Generation Space Telescope", is being built to serve as humanity's "premier observatory of the next decade" [link], assisting scientists and astronomers all over the world in studying everything in our Universe, including the Big Bang, the formation of life-bearing solar systems, and the evolution of the Milky Way!
We also had the pleasure to have lunch with Ms.Vilevac and talk a little bit about ourselves, learn more about Ms.Vilevac, and plan about collaborations for future projects. I loved getting the opportunity to talk face to face with Ms.Vilevac and I really enjoyed her company. I can only hope that she enjoyed ours just as much. Getting to know more about the Goddard Space Flight Center from an employee's point of view was really interesting and made me more eager to learn more! Our lunch ended and we moved on to the next building, which was actually a newly renovated library and we continued our conversation there.
It was fascinating to see the various machines and prototypes of satellites scattered around the various buildings. We were told that one of the gigantic domes we saw was actually a testing simulation where they would put prototype satellites and apply pressure. There were various tools which I had no idea what they did everywhere and large data storing computers, LED's blinking on and off, and on and off. Everywhere I look thousands of questions popped in my head and I my curiosity has never been as large as it was when I was walking through the halls of the Goddard Space Flight Center.
One of most memorable moments was when Ms.Vilevac allowed us to see the inside of the Mission Control Headquarters where the countdown to launch was displayed in a giant glowing monitor and several chairs were scattered around like as if this where a sci-fi movie. It was much more breathtaking than a movie. On the back of the room were the patches from various space missions all over the world. To imagine that this place where I was once standing, was at one point filled with bustling scientists working to expand the knowledge of human kind made my heart stop and my breath caught in my throat. I will most probably never have an experience like this one again in my high school lifetime, but it is one that I will remember forever.