Since I stayed in Houston to start my first day in the NASA Pathways Program, I couldn’t travel for the total eclipse. But I guess Johnson Space Center was the next best place to be for this astronomical phenomenon.
To take a break from a full day of paperwork, orientation information, reviewing the NASA values and mission for the millionth time, ice-breaker activities, and meeting new people, our group of 30 new Pathways interns gathered outside of Building 3 to join in with the eclipse viewing with everyone at Johnson Space Center.
What would you expect from JSC employees during this totally awesome event that NASA’s been promoting for months? If you were to guess hundreds of space nerds with solar glasses on and mouths gaping open, almost noticeably jumping up and down like a pack of ten-year-olds at Chuck E. Cheese, you’d be correct. Except for the fact that we were melting in the 105 degree Texas heat and possibly burning our retinas.
To attempt to relate the eclipse event with the momentous experience of my first day as a NASA civil servant, it was exciting to see my entire social media overrun by posts about something related to space, and not just from people working in the space industry. For a brief period, the entire country stopped and watched this one event for the pure astonishment of nature. Everyone paused their lives to gaze in wonder at something extraordinarily greater than us, almost as if out of respect for the universe and its miracles outside of our control. While it took an eclipse for people to stop and marvel at what occurs in outer space, this passionate curiosity resonates in the core of people at NASA, and it’s the reason why I’m proud to be a part of it.
It was almost a sign that there was an eclipse on the same day that I was sworn in as an official NASA civil servant. (Eh, it was probably just coincidence, but fabricating embellished stories makes life more interesting.)
So now, my days as a NASA civil servant have officially begun, resulting in much more interesting writing topics. I start working in the Software, Simulations, and Robotics division this week.
Unfortunately, I missed the total eclipse, but luckily another one will be coming on April 8, 2024. Since the new astronaut candidate class started training today, maybe it’s a sign that the next eclipse will be the day I start my own astronaut training – although I will need to get over my fear of heights first.