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Science and Imagination
Who are NASA's Earth and Space Science Explorers?

The middle school students who track weather to study its effect on bursting tree buds. And the scientist studying black holes in distant galaxies. But also the teacher whose class shares Earth science data with students around the world. And the engineer who designs robotic instruments to probe hard-to-reach planets. All of these people are Earth Explorers, Space Science Explorers or both. The Earth Explorers and Space Science Explorers series features NASA explorers, young and old, with many backgrounds and interests.

Candice Hansen

Candice Hansen is a scientist who studies planets. She says it is important to use your imagination in science. Image Credit: Candice Hansen

Do you like to read books? When you look at books, what do you like to see? Maybe you are like Candice Hansen when she was young. She read books about outer space. She imagined what going to outer space would be like.

In college, Candice had a science teacher named Dorothy Woolum. She had worked for NASA on the Apollo mission to the moon. Candice loved the class Dr. Woolum taught. So Candice decided to be a scientist and study planets.

Then Candice got a job with NASA. She worked on the Voyager mission. The two Voyager spacecraft were sent to explore the planets Jupiter and Saturn. Candice went to school at the same time she was working. Doing both was hard. When she began, not many women studied planets. Candice wanted to change that.

Candice now works on the Juno mission. Juno is a spacecraft that is going to Jupiter. Candice is in charge of JunoCam. JunoCam is a camera on the spacecraft. It will take pictures of Jupiter's clouds. The camera will not last very long. It will break after a few trips around Jupiter.

Candice works on many problems. Scientists do not always know what parts of outer space will be like. They have to make smart guesses using what they already know. Candice and other scientists build spacecraft based on these guesses. "Every day brings a new challenge ... I love being surprised," Candice says. Scientists have ideas about what they will find. Sometimes they are not right. That's the way science works. Scientists must be creative and come up with new ideas.

Candice has many favorite moments studying the planets. She loved the first picture of Jupiter's ring. She was amazed by the image of a big piece of ice falling down a mountain on Mars. Candice thinks she is lucky to be able to just stop and see these amazing things.

Candice tells students, "Do what you love." You always should learn more about things that make you wonder.

Related Resources:
› What Is Juno?
› Space Science Explorers Series
› Women @ NASA   →

Brandi Bernoskie/Institute for Global Environmental Strategies