Thursday, May 3, 2012

More on LISA/NGO and What Would You Ask a Scientist?


On May 2nd, the ESA officially decided to accept their Science Programme Committee's recommendation to choose the JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) mission for the 2020ish launch opportunity.  While this is unexpected, it is still a disappointment.  A thoughtful article on possible factors contributing to why LISA/NGO was passed over can be found here.

While this is disappointing, all isn't lost.  The scuttlebutt is that LISA may have a good shot at being the next mission chosen when the next mission selection takes place in 2015. (I know...  That's still a long while off.)  The science case for LISA/NGO has always been strong and by then the results of the LISA Pathfinder mission will be in (it appears that it will fly in 2014, not in June like I cited from the NASA website on my last LISA post).  Assuming success, many of the technical concerns should be resolved.

As LISA/NGO detects lower frequency gravitational waves than LIGO ever can (since seismic vibrations create too much noise for LIGO to be sensitive there), it is a beautifully complimentary observatory.  Who wouldn't love a detector where your main noise source is detecting too many gravitational waves at the same time (which is exactly the case for LISA/NGO)?

I'm looking forward to it!

What Would You Ask A Scientist (or Engineer, etc.)?

One of the reasons that I started this blog is that I wanted to show people that scientists are real people.  I've been told too many times to count that I look too young, normal, etc. to be a "real" scientist.  I know that they are trying to compliment me, but the subtext of this is that they thought I wouldn't be human like them.  So, since not all of you can come to visit me, I figured I would share some of my experience and life with you.

Well, it turns out that I am not as interesting as I thought I was (actually, I never thought that - I like vampire books, I have migraines, and I love my job at LIGO - that is me in a nutshell).  But the LIGO Scientific Collaboration is made up of over 800 scientists from across the country and around the world and I am guessing that you may like to find out more about them.

Here is what I am thinking...  I have a few basic questions I would like anyone profiled here to answer:
  • What is it that you do for a living?
  • What motivated you to choose this career?
  • What kind of education do you have/need to do your work?
  • Where are you from?
  • Please tell us something unique about yourself.
I also have a list of questions that I would like the person being profiled to pick and choose from (not all are appropriate for everyone or would produce interesting answers).  Of these, I would love to know that you think is most interesting.  This may help guide the person being profiled in choosing what they wish to answer (or I can ask that your favorites be answered).

So, what would you like to ask someone who works on LIGO?  I have a survey you can click below and there is also a link just below the blog banner called "Survey" where you can respond.  Please note that the last option is where you can put your pressing question that isn't already listed.  Also, feel free to let me know if there is anyone in particular from LIGO that you would like me to profile!  Hope to hear from you!!!