What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?
I am the Mission Manager for NASA Search and Rescue (SAR). Our office is part of a 42-country effort that uses spacecraft to locate people in distress. We use commercially-available beacons operational from the ground, air or sea. Anyone in distress on the ground can push a button on the beacon, which then sends a signal to NOAA/NASA spacecraft (GOES and POES satellites). Beacons on most aircraft or marine vessels can also automatically sense the distress and activate the signal. The SAR instrument picks up the emergency signal and relays it back to Earth where it reaches a local ground terminal that calculates the location of the distress. These ground terminals are all over the world, so anyone anywhere in the world can hit the distress button and will be found by rescue crews.
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Photo of Lisa Mazzuca. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk
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Lisa Mazzuca in front of one of the Baltimore County Police helicopters. Image courtesy of: L. Mazzuca
What makes Goddard a great place to work?
In addition to the diversity in our work and being able to interact with highly intelligent people, I am especially thankful that Goddard paid for me to get a masters in physics, a second masters in astronomy and a doctorate in astronomy. I am multilingual because I can speak “engineer” as well as “scientist.”
What advice would you give someone who is lost or injured?
Before you find yourself in such an unfortunate situation, buy one of the 406 MHz SARSAT satellite-based beacons, which are readily available in marine and sporting goods stores, and register it. This is the most reliable type of distress beacon available. The battery lasts about five years, so make sure your battery is current. Once you push the button, the device will continue to send a signal until it is turned off either by the user or first responders. We will get your signal, so don’t panic. We will find you.
Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests, or activities outside of work that people do not generally know?
After graduating from the Baltimore County Auxiliary Police Academy in 1994, I was sworn in as an Auxiliary Officer of the aviation and marine units. Since then, about every other weekend, I volunteer as a SAR flight officer and hoist operator on the helicopters as well as a first mate on the boats.