“I was not interested in science until I got to high school, and I didn’t find what I wanted to focus on as far as what I liked the most about science until I was in grad school. I spent a summer doing an internship at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab focused on Jupiter’s moon Europa, completely fell in love with Europa, and completely fell in love with planetary science.

“I found it amazing that this world was covered in ice and had an ocean underneath. I was mapping this area on Europa called Conamara Chaos, where we believe that the surface is locally heated. Because of this, there are ginormous icebergs that broke off and floated around in this slushy ice, so I learned to map [that part of the surface]. Having my physics and math background and thinking about a world with a subsurface ocean, I was like, ‘OK, this is a good marriage of fluid mechanics and heat transfer. Europa is a nice world to study that will combine my background with this new planetary science thing that I love.’

“What happened with Europa Clipper was I decided to do my dissertation topic on [the moon]. We’d seen images of these beautiful south polar plumes on Enceladus, these geyser-like plumes, but Europa is much bigger. It has much more water and receives much more tidal heating. Why didn’t the Galileo spacecraft see plumes on Europa? Why don’t we see geysers?

“My dissertation focused on what it would take to have this geyser activity on Europa and for spacecraft cameras to image it. I remember defending my dissertation well but sitting there thinking, ‘People will think I’m a quack because we’ve never seen geysers on Europa.’ That was in May, and by December, Lorenz Roth’s paper came out that Hubble may have detected geysers on Europa. That’s when I was like, ‘Oh yes, I might actually have a career!’

“Shortly after that, the call came out for instrument proposals. Zibi Turtle [Principal Investigator for the Europa Imaging System] met me at a conference and said, ‘We’re writing a proposal for a camera for the Europa mission. Would you want to be on it?’ At that point, I was a year out of my Ph.D. and was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Because that usually never happens. Usually, the people on these instrument teams are more senior. They’ve been around longer, so it’s very rare to be just finishing up your Ph.D. and someone asks you. I felt like it was the best thing in the world because Europa was already my favorite place in the solar system. It would be like a dream to be on the team that will send a spacecraft there to study it. That doesn’t happen very often. So, I said, ‘Sure. I would love to.’

“Our camera got selected, and is an instrument on the Europa Clipper mission, and my role on the team is to look for those geysers! I’ve come a long way from thinking, ‘Well, I did this whole dissertation on geysers, what it would take for them to erupt, for a spacecraft to see them, and that people might not take me seriously as a scientist because of it,’ to being on the Europa Clipper camera team involved in investigating these plumes and ensuring we can image them if they’re there. It’s a full-circle moment.”

– Dr. Lynnae Quick, Ocean Worlds Planetary Scientist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Image Credit: NASA/Thalia Patrinos
Interviewer: NASA/Tahira Allen

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“欧罗巴快船(Europa Clipper)的经历是,我决定把[这颗卫星]作为我的论文主题。(Enceladus)我们看到了恩克拉多斯(Enceladus)南极的美丽的间歇泉状羽流图像,这些像间歇泉一样的羽流,但木卫二要大得多。它有更多的水,受到更多的潮汐加热。为什么伽利略号航天器没有在木卫二上看到羽状物?为什么我们没有看到间歇泉?

“我的论文重点是在木卫二上发生间歇泉活动所需的条件,以及如何用航天器相机拍摄它。我记得我的论文答辩很顺利,但坐在那里想,‘人们会认为我是个江湖骗子,因为我们从来没有在木卫二上看到过间歇泉。’那是在五月,到十二月,洛伦茨·罗斯(Lorenz Roth)的论文发表了,称哈勃望远镜可能已经探测到木卫二上的间歇泉。就在那时,我说,‘哦,是的,我可能真的有自己的事业了!’

“此后不久,我们开始征集仪器提案。Zibi Turtle(木卫二成像系统首席研究员)在一次会议上遇到我,他说,‘我们正在为木卫二任务撰写一份相机提案。你想加入吗?’那时,我距离博士毕业还有一年,我想,‘你在开玩笑吧?’因为这通常不会发生。通常,这些仪器团队的人资历更深。他们已经工作了很长时间,所以很少有人在你刚完成博士学位时就问你。我觉得这是世界上最好的事情,因为木卫二已经是我在太阳系中最喜欢的地方。成为将发射宇宙飞船去那里研究它的团队的一员将是一个梦想。那不经常发生。所以,我说,‘当然。我很乐意。’



图片来源: NASA/Thalia Patrinos
采访者: NASA/Tahira Allen