When Monica Grady, a leading British space scientist known for her work on meteorites, watched the robot probe Philae land on a comet last week, her reaction was priceless.
Professor Grady was tasked with working on a tool of the project called Ptolemy – a shoe-box-sized gas analysis instrument. Like most of her colleagues, she has been working on the Philae project for the past decade, so when landing day finally came, she was understandably overjoyed.
“It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful,” Professor Grady said while jumping up and down. She even hugged the BBC Science Editor David Shukman who was reporting on the historic event. “I’ve waited years for this and I’m just so excited,” she continued.
“If one person is inspired to go into science because of seeing what Rosetta has been doing, seeing the excitement of Philae, then it’s worthwhile.”
In a later interview with BBC Professor Grady explained the mission’s purpose, “We’re going to analyse the comet. We’re going to sniff it. We’re going to melt some of it. We’re going to burn some of it. The biggest thing we’ll learn is what comets have to do with life on earth. One of the most important things that space missions do is bring to people’s attention how exciting it is, what a challenge it is.”
We are thrilled to now know Professor Grady, a woman in STEM doing her thing and loving every minute of it. How can you not be inspired?