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Lynn Carter - Curious About the World and Space Around Her
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Planetary Scientist Lynn M. Carter is curious about everything, from planets to modern art.

Name: Lynn Carter
Title: Research Space Scientist
Organization: Code 698, Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory, Science and Exploration Mission Directorate

What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?

I spend part of my day doing scientific research such as analyzing images of planets, usually using radar observations. Other times, I write papers or proposals for new research.

Everything that I do is on computers and not in a formal laboratory. But I do get to use special equipment when I conduct field work, which is about once a year, or telescopic observations, which is about once or twice a year. For example, I have gone to Kilauea, Hawaii to use ground-penetrating radar to study lava flows. Also, I have used the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico to study the surface of the moon, Venus and various asteroids.

All my work involves teams. I often lead my own research project teams. Whoever comes up with a particular idea for a research proposal then gets to lead the research project team and is also responsible for developing the proposal and later scientific papers.
Photo of Lynn Carter› Larger image
Photo of Lynn Carter at Goddard. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk

I also participate on a lot of teams, including the radar teams for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Where were you working prior to coming to Goddard?

I came to Goddard following a post-Doctoral fellowship at the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. During my fellowship, I did radar remote studies of the Moon and Mars as well as some public outreach. There is some very awesome and inspiring stuff in the museum! My relatives thought it was awesome, too.

The dry, ancient surfaces of the moon, Venus, and Mars look nothing like the dynamic planet we live on, but the same forces that shape our world have also driven the evolution of our closest neighbors. As part of NASA’s Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory, scientist Lynn Carter discusses her passion for volcanoes, impact cratering, and tectonic activity throughout the solar system. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

You have been at Goddard for a little over two years. Why did you decide to work here?

I wanted to become more involved with planetary missions and also continue to do planetary research. I already knew some people at Goddard and I liked them. Goddard is one of the biggest science research centers in the world and offers all kinds of opportunities.

As a fairly new employee, what advice would you offer other new employees?

Try to get involved in a lot of things and meet new people. It is more fun and more interesting. Look for cross-disciplinary projects as well.
Photo of Lynn Carter and her husband, Bender, outside the Ptarmigan tunnel.› Larger image
Lynn Carter and her husband, Chad, outside the Ptarmigan Tunnel in Glacier National Park, MT. Image courtesy: L. Carter

If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you be doing?

I would be studying dinosaurs or chasing tornadoes. But I have always loved space the most.

Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests, or activities outside of work that people do not generally know?

I like going downtown to visit the art museums. I particularly like modern art because it is so cool looking. It is really interesting to look at modern art and imagine what the artist was thinking when he or she created the piece. I like too many modern artists to have a favorite, but the Hirshhorn Museum is my favorite museum because they rotate their collections so frequently.

Do you have a favorite book?

I don’t have a favorite book, but I do love to read. I read everything including science fiction, pure science, fiction, history and mysteries.

Is there someplace in the world that you want to visit or someplace you have been and want to go back?

My husband and I were recently married. We love traveling together, especially to go hiking in the mountains. Our favorite place is Glacier National Park and we even got engaged there.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD