I would imagine this is how I’ll tell my kids about my planetary science career.
This week I had a super busy but also very exciting week for one of our largest conference in a year, Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. There are so much fun discussions, new collaborations established and even I did not go to any meetings in planetary science for more than a year, the people that I have met at some previous meetings still remember me. Of course, I am not disappeared yet, I am still staying in the field!
And I am so delighted to catch up with Pascal, my undergrad advisor again! How happy is it, and I cannot describe how my career has been changed since the time I met him in Quy Nhon, Vietnam 3 years ago. We went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and it was so fun visit there for me, seeing all kinds of rockets, space exploration vehicles, the gigantic Saturn V rocket that has never been in space because of the cancellation of Apollo program.
But more exciting, now I know the full story of why Pascal went to Quy Nhon, Vietnam and then, we met each other, talking about Phobos & Deimos stuffs and etc. and eventually leading to my position now at Cornell. What’s a historic moment (for my career!).
At LPSC 2015, both Pascal and Jonathan Lunine (my PhD advisor now) proposed mission for Discovery proposal and they stood near each other in the Poster session at LPSC. Jonathan’s mission is to go to Enceladus, sampling the materials coming out from the plumes and for Pascal, that’s the Phobos/Deimos mission. And even they are technically are competitors, Pascal told with Jonathan: “I love your mission. That’s the way to do it, highly science, no risk”. Jonathan was really happy to hear that.
Now, that’s the turning point. Btw, Jonathan asked: “Do you have any plans for this summer. We have a workshop in Vietnam and we could invite you to come”. And of course, why not? And the rest is the story of mine, coming to work with Pascal later, and now at Cornell with Jonathan.
The second good memory is that I would like to share is the time when I was in California. We were in a Pho restaurant and Pascal told me his story when he applied to graduate school, only 1 grad school at that time, that’s Cornell University. A few years before, he met with a great scientist, who is a professor at Cornell name Joe Veverka; the person involving in ALL Imaging Camera for spacecraft missions of NASA to explore planetary objects. And it was the meeting in Paris, France; and Pascal that time, was still in Astronomy Club in high school, trying to contact with Joe Veverka to write an article for their own magazine. It has been many times Joe didn’t reply but sometimes, when you keep continuing trying, the person would think that: “That’s guy should have something special as he is so persistent” and Joe finally agreed to meet.
And now, he pointed out to me: “I met my advisor at Cornell in a conference. You met Jonathan also at a conference”.
And yes, we finally made it!! The history comes back!
“Mars rovers professor rescued grad student in the elevator of Space Sciences Building”. That would be the headlines of Cornell Daily Sun haha.
And the third memory, that was when I have already at Cornell. I met with a very cool Mar’s rovers professor name Steve Squyres. And our first met was when he rescued me from the elevator in Space Science Building!
The story is: I got stuck on the elevator of Space Sciences Building when I was preparing to be back home at 6.30 p.m or around. Luckily, the elevator is near the office of Steve Squyres and he immediately called other people to support me getting out.
And the funny thing is the conversation later:
Me: Thank you so much blah blah…
Steve: No problem,… But what’s happened with the rover. Oh, sorry the elevator 😂😂