The James Webb Space Telescope was a Career-Defining Project for Janet Barth

The James Webb Space Telescope was a Career-Defining Project for Janet Barth

Janet Barth used most of her profession at the Goddard House Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md.—which set her in the middle of some of NASA’s most exciting initiatives of the earlier 40 many years.

She joined the middle as a co-op pupil and retired in 2014 as main of its electrical engineering division. She had a hand in Hubble Room Telescope servicing missions, launching the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, and establishing the James Webb Room Telescope.

Barth, an IEEE Lifetime Fellow, executed pioneering work in examining the outcomes of cosmic rays and solar radiation on spacecraft observatories. Her instruments and techniques are even now utilised now. She also assisted produce science demands for NASA’s Living With a Star method, which research the sunshine, magnetospheres, and planetary systems.

For her get the job done, Barth was honored with this year’s IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award for “leadership of and contributions to the improvement of the structure, developing, deployment, and procedure of able, sturdy area systems.”

“I still tear up just considering about it,” Barth claims. “Receiving this award is humbling. Everybody at IEEE and Goddard who I worked with owns a piece of this award.”

From co-op employ to main of NASA’s EE division

Barth in the beginning attended the College of Michigan in Ann Arbor, to pursue a diploma in biology, but she soon recognized that it wasn’t a excellent fit for her. She transferred to the University of Maryland in University Park, and modified her significant to applied arithmetic.

She was accepted for a co-op posture in 1978 at the Goddard heart, which is about 9 kilometers from the university. Co-op positions let college students to function at a organization and obtain knowledge although pursuing their diploma.

“I was psyched about employing my investigation and math capabilities to enable new science at Goddard,” she claims. She done investigate on radiation environments and their results on digital systems.

Goddard employed her right after she graduated as a radiation and hardness assurance engineer. She assisted make sure that the electronics and components in house systems would perform as built following being uncovered to radiation in house.

Because of her experience in space radiation, George Withbroe, director of the NASA Solar-Terrestrial Physics plan (now its Heliophysics Division), requested her in 1999 to assist create a funding proposal for a application he needed to launch—which turned Living With a Star. It been given US $2 billion from the U.S. Congress and released in 2001.

During her 12 years with the software, Barth aided generate the architecture doc, which she says turned a seminal publication for the field of heliophysics (the examine of the sun and how it influences place). The document outlines the program’s ambitions and goals.

In 2001 she was selected to be job manager for a NASA check mattress that aimed to have an understanding of how spacecraft are influenced by their surroundings. The test mattress, which collected knowledge from space to predict how radiation might affect NASA missions, successfully completed its mission in 2020.

Barth attained the following rung on her profession ladder in 2002, when she turned a single of the initial female affiliate department heads of engineering at Goddard. At the house center’s Flight Data Methods and Radiation Effects Branch, she led a group of engineers who created flight personal computers and storage units. Although it was a steep understanding curve for her, she states, she liked it. Three decades later, she was heading the department.

She acquired a different marketing, in 2010, to chief of the electrical engineering division. As the Goddard Engineering Directorate’s initial female division main, she led a team of 270 staff who intended, created, and analyzed electronics and electrical devices for NASA devices and spacecraft.

vintage photograph of woman smiling in group of 3 peopleBarth (left) and Moira Stanton at the 1997 RADiation and its Effects on Elements and Methods Meeting, held in Cannes, France. Barth and Stanton coauthored a poster paper and been given the superb poster paper award.Janet Barth

Performing on the James Webb Space Telescope

During her profession, Barth was included in the enhancement of the Webb area telescope. Any time she considered that she was done with the substantial job, she states with a chortle, her route would “intersect with Webb all over again.”

She very first encountered the Webb job in the late 1990s, when she was questioned to be on the original examine team for the telescope.

She wrote its place-atmosphere technical specs. Immediately after they ended up published in 1998, however, the crew realized that there had been several advanced issues to remedy with the telescope’s detectors. The Goddard crew supported Matt Greenhouse, John C. Mather, and other engineers to do the job on the difficult concerns. Greenhouse is a challenge scientist for the telescope’s science instrument payload. Mather won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for discoveries supporting the Large Bang product.

The Webb’s detectors take up photons—light from significantly-absent galaxies, stars, and planets—and transform them into digital voltages. Barth and her group labored with Greenhouse and Mather to validate that the detectors would perform though uncovered to the radiation surroundings at the L2 Lagrangian issue, a person of the positions in room where human-sent objects tend to keep put.

Many years later, when Barth was heading the Flight Data Units and Radiation Results department, she oversaw the development of the telescope’s instrument command and knowledge dealing with programs. Mainly because of her significant position, Barth’s title was penned on the telescope’s instrument ICDH flight box.

When she turned main of Goddard’s electrical engineering division, she was assigned to the technological review panel for the telescope.

“At that issue,” she says, “we targeted on the mechanics of deployment and the threats that arrived with not staying equipped to thoroughly exam it in the surroundings it would be launched and deployed in.”

She served on that panel right until she retired. In 2019, five yrs after retiring, she joined the Miller Engineering and Investigate Corp. advisory board. The enterprise, based mostly in Pasadena, Md., manufactures areas for aerospace and aviation companies.

“I really like the ethics of the firm. They company science missions and crewed missions,” Barth suggests. “I went back again to my roots, and which is been seriously satisfying.”

The very best factors about becoming an IEEE member

Barth and her husband, Douglas, who is also an engineer, joined IEEE in 1989. She states they enjoy belonging to a “unique peer team.” She particularly likes attending IEEE conferences, getting access to journals, and staying equipped to just take continuing training courses and workshops, she says.

“I stay up to date on the improvements in science and engineering,” she says, “and likely to conferences keeps me motivated and motivated in what I do.” The networking alternatives are “terrific,” she adds, and she’s been capable to meet up with people from just about all engineering industries.

An lively IEEE volunteer for extra than 20 many years, she is govt chairwoman of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society’s Radiation Consequences Steering Group, and she served as 2013–2014 president of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Modern society. She also is an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science.

“IEEE has certainly benefited my job,” she claims. “There’s no question about that.”

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