A stay at home mom, she resumed her career as a JWST planner

A stay at home mom, she resumed her career as a JWST planner

Kari Bosley is responsible for planning when large satellites will connect with the James Webb Space Telescope as it travels through outer space.
Kari Bosley

  • Kari Bosley is the lead mission planner for the James Webb Space Telescope at the Space Telescope Science Institute.
  • She was told growing up that she couldn’t be part of the plane because of her gender.
  • She was a housewife before she revived her career to work on the world’s most powerful telescope.

This essay is based on a conversation with Kari Bosley, about her work as lead mission planner for the James Webb Space Telescope at the Space Science Center, which partners with NASA to conduct the mission. Edited for length and clarity.

I wasn’t always interested in the sky, but I always wanted to fly. When I was a little girl, Amelia Earhart was my idol. I wanted to be a pilot, just like him.

When I had to get glasses in the fifth grade, I realized that I had to get something else that I wanted because at that time you had to have 20/20 vision to be able to fly.

So, since I couldn’t be a pilot, and had no interest in being a mechanic, I was excited about the idea of ​​becoming an air traffic controller.

But I grew up in the 80s, times were different. I was told that I could not direct flights because I was a woman. So I had to reset my life plan, again.

When they announced that they were going to send a teacher to the moon on the Challenger mission, I thought that was really cool. It showed me that anyone can go to space.

Well, it turned out to be a terrible disaster, but it was my first experience of really being able to learn about a place.

I wasn’t sure where to go from there, and ended up taking pre-med classes at our community college. After about a year, I decided to leave it to get married and have a family. I thought being a mother was the only thing I was meant to do.

I find the work interesting and it motivates me to go back to school

Finally, when my three sons were grown, I returned to work. Thirteen years ago, I got a job in the facilities department at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

They support the daily operations of various NASA missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the most powerful telescope ever built, and has led to many scientific discoveries and firsts since it was launched into space.

I eventually moved from the resources department into my current role as a mission planner. When I was assigned to the James Webb project in 2016, I knew nothing about the telescope. But I quickly learned.

The more I learn, the more I love what I do.

Now, I’m working with another mission planner to plan the routine activities that happen at each of the telescopes. To do this job, you have to be very detailed and organized, very little is done by flying these missions.

I need to know when the telescope will coordinate with the Deep Space Network, which receives information from the technology, every day. Our planning ensures that people can get the data and photos they need from the top of space.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captured the Ring Nebula in unprecedented detail with its mid-infrared instrument.
ESA / Webb, NASA, CSA, M. Barlow (UCL), N. Cox (ACRI-ST), R. Wesson (Cardiff University)

Some people might say that the day job is boring, but I still find it interesting.

It inspired me to go back to school part-time, to take a course in systems engineering. I will receive my degree in the Spring of 2025.

I can do whatever I want

I may not be an astronomer or a scientist, but I am a well-organized person who works well under pressure, and I like to contribute to important discoveries made by the telescope.

By working at JWST, I started to realize that I can do whatever I want to do, it doesn’t matter if I’m a woman.

An antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, located in the Mojave Desert in California.

Although I did not have an engineering degree, I was part of a team that was trying to find this important scientific instrument that works in space.

There are many different groups, with people from different backgrounds, and different roles, working together to make a local project happen. It’s not just one person doing anything here, it’s a whole team working towards one goal: a successful mission.

I consider myself lucky.

Not many stay-at-home moms get the chance to renew their careers. My children support and encourage me in my choice to return to school and work. They still inspire me today, even though they are all old.

The only way it works is the mission

I don’t intend to stop anytime soon. I love what I do, I love this job.

It amazes me that I was told I couldn’t be what I wanted to be growing up because of my gender, and now I can work in the aerospace industry and be seen as an equal.

I work with many other respected women, and some of my favorite co-teachers are women too.

I think that’s one of the reasons I feel so lucky, to have a team that welcomes, encourages, and respects me and the unique qualities I bring to the table. That’s the only way the job works.

#stay #home #mom #resumed #career #JWST #planner

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