NASA Johnson Space Center USRP
An interview with Julianna Scheiman '11
Julianna is an engineering physics major at Dartmouth. She is very involved in space technology research and hopes to one day walk the surface of Mars. She has done research with the physics department, building weather balloon payloads as well as launching them. Beyond her studies, Julianna somehow finds time to race with Dartmouth's crew team.
Describe your research project or responsibilities.
I worked in the Radiation Health Office at Johnson Space Center. The RHO (NASA lovestheir TLAs- Three Letter Acronyms) is in charge of monitoring astronauts' radiation exposure levels and keeping them within NASA limits. I wrote code that computed the confidence intervals on the "Risk of Exposure Induced Death (REID)" measurement by running a Monte Carlo uncertaintyanalysis. This is used to ensure adherence to NASA enforced threshold radiation acceptance levels.
What is the significance of your work?
The code I wrote is used in the Radiation Health Office's daily operations to ensure astronaut radiation exposure levels and associated Risk of Exposure Induced Death figures remain below NASA limits.
How did you select this project? Was it original research or was the projectassigned to you?
My lab experience with Professor Robyn Millan at Dartmouth studying the earth's magnetosphere and relativistic electron losses placed me with the group. I had some creative flexibility in choosing my research path and final deliverable.
Did you get to tour the facilities on base?
Yeah, sure did! This was probably the coolest part of the internship. Johnson Space Center is where NASA trains their astronauts, so I got to see the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, Mission Control, Edwards Airforce Base, the Space Food Lab, the Robotics Lab, the Virtual Reality Lab, the indoor space station and shuttle mockups, and a bunch of other super cool things!
How many students did you work with? What other kinds of people were involved withyour project?
I didn't work with any other students, but I did work with the radiation specialists that work full-time in the RHO.
What kinds of social events were there?
I trained for a half marathon while I was in Houston, and I met a bunch of other interns/co-ops to hang out with on the weekends. We went to the beach for a weekend, went to the movies, went into downtown Houston, and hung out.
What was your living situation like?
I lived with a JSC employee, renting a bedroom.
What was your favorite part about working at JSC?
My favorite part was when I was walking in the hall of my building and ended up having a conversation about what type of material the Orion windows should be made out of. After having a long debate overmaterial types, my coworker asked me if I knew that the person I was talking to was a 4-time shuttle astronaut. Mario Runco is a pretty cool dude and I now can say I have an astronaut as a friend.
What are your plans for the future?
I learned a lot of important skills and gained a lot of NASA knowledge that will be helpful in my quest to become an astronaut.
Above: (1) A view of the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL), (2) Julianna standing next to a T-38 training jet, (3) Mission control, (4) Two Prototype Lunar exploration vehicles - the proposed lunar rover/habitat is in the back, (5) Julianna tries her hand at the ISS virtual reality simulator. On the left, she is seen wearing goggles and gloves that track your hand motions. The right hand picture is a look into the world of the virtual astronaut. All photos are courtesy Julianna.