Regular visitors may have noticed that my once-weekly guest contributions to The Planetary Society have become pretty sparse. Part of that is a result of me adjusting to fatherhood and spending a lot of time helping my wife with baby wrangling duties. It’s also due to the fact that I’m now a full-time journalism graduate student at the University of Arizona.
My decision to attend Arizona was largely influenced by the amount of world-class astronomical and planetary research that happens in and around Tucson. The two-year Master's program emphasizes traditional journalism, but it also gives students a decent berth to pursue their own reporting interests. For me, of course, that’s space and science.
I have some fun pursuits in the pipeline: a mini-documentary on light pollution, an upcoming article for the Arizona Daily Star on astrophotography at Mt. Lemmon, and a research project in its infancy that will hopefully explore how to create effective science communication.
For now, I want to share two pieces I did for my multimedia journalism class. Up until now, I’ve had very little experience with audio-visual storytelling. While I still have much to learn, I’m pretty satisfied with these two shorts (I also have some non-space work over at my website, including a piece I really enjoyed on greyhound adoption).
This first segment is an environmental portrait and audio interview with Johanna Teske, an astronomy Ph.D. candidate. I like the portrait because there’s a nice glint of sunlight peeking out behind Steward Observatory, where she works. The audio interview includes a great story about what it's like to do high-altitude astronomy, an overview of her work on exoplanets, and her personal thoughts on life in the Universe.
The second piece is a short interview with Kristin Block, a targeting specialist for HiRISE, the powerful camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Kristin’s team was responsible for snagging the amazing photo of Curiosity descending under parachute to the Martian surface. She gives a great description of why HiRISE is important for more than just pretty pictures; it's also a powerful tool that helps scientists learn about how the surface of Mars changes over time.