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Maggie Masetti - From Greenbelt to Hollywood via James Webb
June 11, 2013

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Web developer Maggie Masetti is all about the big bang theory, from working with our Dr. John Mather, who proved the theory, to visiting the set of the television show.

Name: Maggie Masetti
Title: Web Developer
Formal Job Classification: Same
Organization: Code 660.2, James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Project, Astrophysics Science Division, Sciences and Exploration Directorate
Years at Goddard: 16
Years in Current Position: 6

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

I manage the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) website, social media, and also do education and public outreach. I work on a science blog and podcast for the Astrophysics Science Division called "NASA Blueshift," which gives a backstage view.

The most exciting parts about my job are working on a cutting-edge mission and having an audience that wants to know about what we do.

What makes you most effective at doing public outreach?

My background in astrophysics and my ability to communicate allow me to explain science to the public.

What do you think is the coolest thing about social media?

Photo of Maggie Masetti› Larger image
Photo of Maggie Masetti. Credit: NASA

It allows instant communication between the public and us. We give them answers and they give us feedback.

Is there something surprising about your background that people do not generally know?

When I was in tenth grade, I went to Space Camp because I wanted to be an astronaut. I later applied to the astronaut program, but my knee issues disqualified me. So I majored in astrophysics, interned at NASA, and started working here once I graduated. I may not be an astronaut, but I get to hang out with them.

Photo of Maggie Masetti on the set of the Big Bang Theory
Maggie on the set of "The Big Bang Theory" sitting in "Sheldon's spot" with the Goddard-developed early universe beach ball beside her. Photo courtesy of M. Masetti

Who is the most interesting, inspiring or amazing person you have met or worked with at Goddard?

I've worked with Dr. John Mather, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics 2006 for his work on the big bang theory, on outreach projects. He is always very willing to help us. He's also one of the nicest and most humble people. Recently, a friend of mine, who is very excited about the Webb Telescope, visited Goddard. When we walked past Dr. Mather's office, I asked if he would mind meeting my friend. Dr. Mather not only took the time to talk to him, he also took a photo with him!

What is the coolest thing you've ever done at Goddard?

Goddard developed a beach ball with an image of the early universe on it. It's used as a teaching tool – and it also happens to be on the set of "The Big Bang Theory." We wanted a photo of the ball on the set for a blog we were writing for NASA Blueshift. A "tweet" at the show's executive producer/co-creator Bill Prady resulted in an invitation to come take a picture ourselves. We ended up with a private tour of the set and an interview with Bill. We recently returned to the set to watch a taping and got to interview the prop master, set decorator, and science advisor and particle physicist, Dr. David Saltzberg. Dr. Saltzberg suggests what science to use and then ensures that the science in the scripts is accurate including all the information on the set's many white boards. It turns out that Dr. Saltzberg was a Goddard intern many years ago.

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

I'd be a rock guitarist. I'm in a rock band with other Goddard folks, and we are working on an original album right now. Because our bass player worked on the fourth Hubble servicing mission, we played for a number of their parties. Once an astronaut joined us on guitar. We even played in Florida at a party for the servicing mission shuttle launch.

If you could meet and talk to anybody, living or dead, who would it be and what's the first thing you'd ask them?

I would love to meet any of the Beatles, living or dead, to talk about their music. I'd want to play music with them – any or all of it.

Do you have a favorite TV show?

One of my current favorites is, of course, "The Big Bang Theory."

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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator