Oral history of British science

Aderin-Pocock, Maggie (10 of 14). An Oral History of British Science

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  • Recording date

    2013-08-15, 2013-08-22, 2013-09-26, 2014-01-14, 2014-02-13, 2014-04-03

  • Recording locations

    British Library, London

  • Interviewees

    Aderin-Pocock, Maggie, 1968- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 10: Description of room in which BHROS was installed, under GS telescope, Chile. Story of assembling the BHROS in this room [in 2003], including own role in solving problem with input of light. [4:55] Comments on period after initial installation, involving frequent travel between Chile and UK. Story of visit from husband. Comments on enjoyment of experiences in/on GS telescope. Brief description of working day/weekly routine in Chile. [8:46] Description of assembly of/coupling to GS telescope of BHROS, with descriptions of operation of BHROS. Story of travel to/from US and Canada (from Chile) to have BHROS mirrors coated. Further description of assembly of BHROS. Mentions feelings of satisfaction/relief at point of successful assembly. [15:32] Comments on process of convincing GS project leaders that BHROS was performing as promised. Story of remote control (from UK) of BHROS (in Chile) by software engineer. [17:31] Brief comments on level of interest in/commitment to BHROS, including reference to it as ‘my baby’. Story of continuation of employment as project manager for MSSL, but now based at MSSL itself [in Dorking, Surrey] rather than London, including new role managing ‘space projects’ (rather than ground based projects like BHROS); role in writing of proposal/bid for MSSL development of instrument for James Webb Space Telescope [JWST], in collaboration with French company Alcatel. Description of location of Alcatel, Cannes, France. Comments on winning of this bid by UK aerospace company Astrium, resulting in MSSL JWST contract with Astrium rather than Alcatel. [20:48] Story of application [in 2004] for job in aerospace company Sira [Ltd.], Chislehurst, Kent. Comments on work at Sira on development of space camera for [European Space Agency - ESA] Aeolus satellite, concerned with measurement of wind speed in atmosphere in relation to climate change. Brief description of ‘Doppler effect’. Comments on need for components developed for space to be reliable in extreme conditions (including meaning of ‘rad hard’). Description of process of working in ‘clean room’. [26:02] Comments on stages in ‘space projects’ involving PDR, CDR then actual ‘cutting metal’. Story of problem of sourcing suitable heat pipes for space camera, including description of operation of heat pipes (as coolants for instruments). Comments on successful completion of space camera; delay (to present) in overall Aeolus satellite project. [30:50] Mentions establishment of own science education/outreach/public engagement company Science Innovation Ltd. [SI] [11/2004]. Comments on relations with mechanical designers at Sira. Story of announcement of substantial number of redundancies at Sira (not including self). Comments on effect on self of this experience, including comments on own longstanding concern to avoid unemployment/uncertainty; effect on Sira (based in ‘large stately home’) of redundancies. Comments on reasons for establishing own company, SI: keenness to continue working in the future alongside parenting. [35:47] Story of decision not to buy house with husband in Chislehurst, choosing Guildford instead, in relation to unforeseen takeover of Sira’s ‘space division’ by Surrey Satellites [SS] [Technology Ltd.], based in Guildford. Mentions earlier job offer at SS at time of acceptance of job at Sira. Brief comments on reasons for choosing Sira. [38:00] Brief comments on projects led at SS. Story of being ‘head hunted’ by Astrium [in 2006]; first contract from PPARC [Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council] for public engagement work through SI; use of computer astronomy program ‘Celestia’. Comments on addictiveness of public engagement work with school children.

  • Description

    Life story interview with space scientist and television presenter, Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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