The Sun-drenched Cosmic Wave Ride Winds Down

6.5 days remain of my 10-week internship here at JPL. Recently, I have watched many of my new friends complete their own time here and depart for home. The quieter days and nights have given me more time to reflect on what this has all meant. What has been gained from this experience? What did I accomplish, and at what cost?

s Brave climbers with a once proud machine

Steph and Garrett at the top of Mount Echo in Pasadena, after a nice hike to the ruins of a century-old hotel and the cable system which pulled a train up the mountain.

w More Okies in Cali

Microbial Fuel Cell lab tour with TCC/OSU student turned JPL intern Kelsey Shane Davis, TCC Prof Roxanne Davenport, JPL Scientist Amanda Stockton, TCC Profs Thomas Henderson and Mary Phillips, and JPL Scientist Aaron Noell.

I think it is safe to say that the internship has been wildly and smashingly successful, comparatively on the order of a family of feral hippopotamuses in a watermelon eating contest, perhaps. While here, I helped discover and replicate the conditions necessary to perform the Martian regolith amino acid extraction method which the AstroBioNibbler team has been actively seeking for over a year. Along the way I met and learned from a plethora of experts in numerous fields of study–some of which I was previously oblivious to the existence of.

36) Bemused Friends

Bemused friends in the immaculately maintained gardens of Pasadena’s Huntington Museum, repository of literally millions of historical and scientific artifacts and slightly fewer beautiful and exotic plant species from around the world. Marc Higgins, Leah Ginsberg, Kaelyn Griffin.

39) Laura Selliez and a Bamboo Garden

Frenchie-French JPL intern and shining example of happiness Laura Selliez in her trademark “Blue Steel” pose adorns a forest of massive bamboo at Huntington.

While off the clock and out of the lab, no more than a couple of days were spent languishing without at least one or two exciting, educational, or revelatory activities to be immersed in. Relationships were forged, networks were expanded. Cuisine was sampled and new cultural perspectives were added. I am going to miss you, Summer of 2014.

22) SpaceX

Outside of SpaceX, Elon Musk’s private space exploration company which is in the process of revolutionizing human escape from Earth gravity. Not permitted to take pics once inside 😦 but the awesomeness can not be overstated.

x Curiosity 2 year anniversary panel

View from a second row seat of a panel commemorating the 2 year anniversary of the successful landing of Mars Science Lab (Curiosity Rover). From the left: JPL moderator Gay Hill, MSL Deputy Project Mgr Jennifer Trosper, MSL rover drive engineer Matt Heverly, MSL scientist Kim Lichtenberg, MSL media relations specialist Guy Webster, and MSL lead project resource analyst Dennis Young.

On the other hand, I am super excited to get back to Sand Springs and reunite with my girls! Back to school at TCC, back to work in the attics and basements of the fine citizenry of Tulsa, but with a new sense of purpose, and some fresh goals and ideas for the future. I will fly back just in time to Paint the Zoo Blue with TCC and my family. Eagerly gearing up for class, cable slangin’, and bedtime stories.

x Levitt Amphitheater after

Looking back at the crowd, free jazz show at Levitt Amphitheater in Pasadena.

y Hot Club of Detroit

Hot Club of Detroit taking a brief respite between aural tapestry weaving sessions.

z Levitt amphitheater before

Calm before the sonic storm.

So here are some pics from the last few rapidly passing days. Brief captions will have to suffice, as in these final hours there is much else to be finished besides the painstaking craft of the awkward and occasionally eloquent prose which accompanies them from time to time.

38) Huntington Bonsai Garden

More Huntington Gardens, bonsai trees near the zen rocks

37) Huntington Japanese Garden

Elevated view of the stately and serene Japanese Garden

23) Tesla

Drive-by shot of Tesla factory behind SpaceX.

y Dare Mighty Things!

MSL landing 2 year anniversary commemorative photo on the steps of Flight Operations Facility building 321.

v JPL Machine Shop

One of the 4 massive, cutting-edge machine shops at JPL where crucial spacecraft parts are fabricated.

v The view from San O

Permanent shelter for chilling and grilling at San Onofre Surf Beach, my new spiritual home away from home.

u catching some waves

San-O waves coming in.

t Onward to Mount Echo

Mount Echo, Pasadena.

v Inside Goldstone Deep Space Comm Center Museum

JPL Intern field trip to Goldstone Deep Space Network Communications Center, inside the museum. Mimi Audia Parker in the darker yet equally stylish hat, along with fellow space ranger Katie Acord and numerous others.

w Sad goodbye

Tearful goodbye to the genuinely caring and all-around fantastic Leah Ginsberg, with Audrey, Laura, and me.

giant bearings

JPL Intern Emma Dodd for scale next to immense roller bearings from a 70m Deep Space antenna.

giant top view

70m Goldstone DSN antenna aims to intercept the stream of invisible light whose origin is a JPL-built space robot millions of miles away.

giantest antenna group shot

70m Goldstone antenna showing off for the camera.

r JPL in the distance

View of JPL from the top of Mount Echo.