Project Scientist Randy Kimble
Note: Some quotes in this story have been changed for readability.
Describe your role with the Mission to Hubble.
My official title is project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope Development Project. The project makes new hardware for the telescope. This hardware includes scientific instruments, gyroscopes, batteries and other items. I make sure the new hardware will help the telescope meet its scientific goals.
The main instrument I work with is the Wide Field Camera 3. This camera takes pictures in visible light. It also takes pictures in ultraviolet and near-infrared light.
What should people know about Hubble?
Hubble produces results that are thrilling, both intellectually and visually.
Hubble helps us understand how the universe works, how it has evolved, and how it will change in the future. It is tremendously exciting to think that this sort of understanding is within our grasp.
The visual aspects of Hubble are important, too. The universe is filled with spectacular, beautiful objects and phenomena. The ability of Hubble pictures to make that beauty available to everyone is part of its success.
How did you become interested in science? How did that interest grow into a career?
I always tell my mother that it's all her fault. Because it all started when she got me a little book called "Our Sun and the Worlds Around It" at a school book fair back in elementary school.
For whatever reason, I was always very interested in science and science books. That interest, combined with the excitement of the manned space program in the 1960s, is what got me headed in this direction. I also remember going to the school cafeteria to watch the first Mercury launches, which led to the moon landings of the Apollo program.
Then, in college, I was particularly excited by my professor's work in X-ray astronomy. He told dramatic tales of his work with rockets and high-altitude balloons. The work that I've done since then combines the excitement of astronomy and astrophysics with the really cool rocket stuff. I'm lucky to have been able to combine the science and the "cool toys" into an actual career.
What advice would you give to students who are thinking about a career in science?
Take all the science and math you can. Talk to people who have jobs in science. When you're old enough, work for a scientist during the summer. This will give you an idea of what this sort of work is like. Good luck!
Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies