MSS17 Intern Linda Dao reports from NASA Ames


"From an empty hangar skeleton, to the largest wind tunnel in the world, walking through the NASA Ames campus is like walking through a museum of historic space events – except that this adventure takes you from the past to the future" said Linda Dao a Master of Space Studies (MSS) program participant at the International Space University (ISU).

"Here at NASA Ames, I am working in the Astrobiology department with Chris McKay and Hiroshi Imanaka. In a lab previously owned by Carl Sagan, I am experimenting with plasma where my project focusses on simulating planetary atmospheric conditions to create and analyze organic substances. The results from our work will help answer questions pertaining to how organics formed from early Archaean Earth, to how life may form on other planets.

My MSS17 colleagues also here at NASA Ames are each involved with a unique project. Meredith Campbell is working with Marcus Murbach on the TechEdSat cube-sat testing a drag device meant to enable the quick return of scientific samples from the ISS in time periods as short as one week. Hernan Barrio Zhang is also working with Chris McKay on the possible role, density and origin of perchlorates in the Martian surface and their relation with ionizing radiation. Sam Harrison is working in the Astrophysics department with Ruslan Belikov on a lower wave front sensor system which corrects the position of an image via a Piezo actuator controlled tip tilt mirror system. This has a range of applications including aiding in the direct imaging of exoplanets. Meanwhile, Gloria Volohonsky will investigate the immune system responses of fruit flies to altered gravity environments, working with Sharmila Bhattacharya.

My experiences at NASA Ames so far have been exhilarating and filled with clear skies. From bi-weekly colloquium talks by NASA scientists and guest speakers, to hearing astronaut Michael Barratt present on “The Human in Space”, each day brings new insights into the innovative research being performed here. I am even more amazed at the NASA-ISU representation, as they are incredibly supportive to enrich our experiences in Silicon Valley. Adopting the principles of the 3I’s, I look forward to grasp all that NASA has to offer over the course of my internship with my MSS17 colleagues."