“Why do you like space so much?” asks Joey Jefferson, a Mission Operations Engineer at NASA, of his nephew Jerry Morrison. The space-obsessed 6-year-old has an immediate answer: “There’s so much sights to see: nebulas, hot Jupiters and supernova remnants. They look so beautiful.”
In this animated version of their StoryCorps conversation, the pair discuss their love for space exploration, exoplanets, and the joy of teaching and learning new things.
In an interview on SolarSystem.NASA.gov, Jefferson talks more about what first sparked his love for science:
From my earliest memory, I could not believe humans had figured out how to beat gravity. As a child the more I learned about flying and space exploration, the more I fell in love. I remember when I was about 6, my grandmother and I flew a Sun Country Airlines flight to Minnesota to visit my aunt, and the captain of the plane let me sit in the cockpit of the Boeing 737. He explained to me about the yoke and throttle, and I asked as many questions as I possibly could. Although the experience may have been five minutes, the impact lasted a lifetime. From there, I flew my first airplane at age 13, and I focused my career path toward aerospace engineering.
And his advice for others who are interested in a similar career in science and space?
On the skill side, having the ability to multitask, research effectively, ask questions, admit mistakes and learn from them is crucial in my opinion, with emphasis on the latter. The wonderful part of working at JPL is that perfection isn’t expected; however, progression is expected. No one expects you to be a perfect software engineer straight out of college, but when mistakes are made, it’s essential to carefully review the cause and create a solution so the mistake is truly learned from. People will take notice of that effort.
Watch more StoryCorps and more NASA videos next:
• The NASA-JPL engineers behind Mars InSight & MarCO
• Astronaut Leland Melvin on Returning Home From Life In Space
• The Courage To Invent: NASA Roboticist Dr. Ayanna Howard Tells Her Story
• Learning To Fly, a StoryCorps animation with birder Drew Lanham
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