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Last Post 10/21/2008 3:22 PM by  Pat Reiff
Your Career
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10/21/2008 8:29 AM

    Sam M (AD)

    Do you think 10 years from now you'll still be sturdying the sun, if not, what might you be doing? thanks...

    Tags: MMS, Cluster, reconnection, merging, magnetosphere, Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission

    Mandy Hagenaar

    New Member

    New Member

    10/21/2008 9:08 AM

    Hi Sam,

    I sure think I will still be studying the Sun. By then, new telescope will have been developed and observe the Sun in even more detail!

    If not, I would be a goat farmer and make my own cheese (see ).

    I also would start a dog shelter to rescue dogs. Cats would be welcome too (for example see


    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    10/21/2008 9:19 AM

    Hi Sam,

    Actually, I don't really study the Sun right now at all. My areas of research are magnetospheric physics and the solar wind. I use data from satellites that are making what we call in situ measurements of magnetic fields, electric fields, and particles in the region of space surrounding planet Earth. In situ is just a fancy scientific way of saying "local" or "in the original place." Instead of using a satellite to make images of the Sun from a distance, I use other types of data to examine the space environment at the location of the satellite. I'm interested in things like plasma waves in the solar wind near the bow shock at the front of the Earth's magnetosphere, the Van Allen radiation belts, and the aurora borealis. Although the energy to create plasma waves and accelerate particles in these regions originates in the Sun and travels to Earth by the solar wind, I'm not really studying the Sun itself.

    I suppose that 10 years from now, I could end up directly studying the Sun, but I think it is more likely that I will still be studying processes inside the Earth's magnetosphere. I think that the magnetospheres of the other planets, like Jupiter, are very interesting, so it's possible that a few years from now I could be studying something like that too. I'm also interested in spacecraft instruments, so maybe in a few years I could be helping to build hardware for new missions. Or my career could go in a completely different direction. I could be an administrator at a university or government agency. I also think it would be fun to write popular science books and science fiction novels like Carl Sagan did. It's really hard to say what the future might hold, since there are so many possibilities!


    Pat Reiff

    New Member

    New Member

    10/21/2008 3:22 PM
    Wow, in 10 years I'll be 68 years old. By that age many people retire from work, but space science is so much fun that many of us work long into our 70's or even 80's. Dr. Bill Gordon, who invented the Arecibo Telescope, is 90 years old!

    I am working on the planning of a spacecraft call the "Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission". It is designed to fly in the year 2012, and we hope will take data for 5 years or more. So I hope I will still be analyzing the data from it in 2018! When science stops being fun, I'll retire but I don't expect that very soon.

    For more information on the MMS mission, see It will be four spacecraft flying in formation, like the Cluster mission. By doing that we can understand the process of "reconnection" or "merging" that allows magnetic energy to be released into particle energy. This process happens on the Sun and in the Earth's magnetosphere, but it's a lot easier to fly a spacecraft near the Earth than near the Sun!
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