June 13, 2024

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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 invested most of her vocation at the Goddard Place Flight Centre, in Greenbelt, Md.—which place her in the center of some of NASA’s most interesting tasks of the past 40 years.

She joined the middle as a co-op student and retired in 2014 as main of its electrical engineering division. She experienced a hand in Hubble Place Telescope servicing missions, launching the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, and developing the James Webb House Telescope.


Barth, an IEEE Daily life Fellow, executed groundbreaking perform in examining the effects of cosmic rays and solar radiation on spacecraft observatories. Her tools and methods are continue to made use of now. She also assisted produce science needs for NASA’s Living With a Star software, which reports the sunshine, magnetospheres, and planetary programs.

For her perform, Barth was honored with this year’s IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award for “leadership of and contributions to the advancement of the design, making, deployment, and operation of able, sturdy place units.”

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

From co-op employ the service of to chief of NASA’s EE division

Barth originally attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, to go after a diploma in biology, but she shortly understood that it wasn’t a fantastic match for her. She transferred to the College of Maryland in University Park, and modified her key to utilized mathematics.

She was approved for a co-op placement in 1978 at the Goddard centre, which is about 9 kilometers from the college. Co-op work opportunities enable learners to perform at a company and obtain expertise when pursuing their diploma.

“I was excited about utilizing my assessment and math abilities to allow new science at Goddard,” she suggests. She executed research on radiation environments and their consequences on electronic systems.

Goddard hired her soon after she graduated as a radiation and hardness assurance engineer. She assisted make sure that the electronics and resources in space methods would execute as created immediately after staying exposed to radiation in space.

Mainly because of her skills in space radiation, George Withbroe, director of the NASA Photo voltaic-Terrestrial Physics plan (now its Heliophysics Division), requested her in 1999 to assist compose a funding proposal for a plan he required to launch—which grew to become Dwelling With a Star. It received US $2 billion from the U.S. Congress and launched in 2001.

All through her 12 yrs with the program, Barth aided write the architecture doc, which she says became a seminal publication for the discipline of heliophysics (the research of the sunlight and how it influences house). The doc outlines the program’s objectives and targets.

In 2001 she was chosen to be task supervisor for a NASA exam bed that aimed to comprehend how spacecraft are affected by their setting. The take a look at mattress, which gathered information from space to forecast how radiation could possibly effects NASA missions, properly done its mission in 2020.

Barth reached the upcoming rung on her vocation ladder in 2002, when she became a person of the initial feminine affiliate department heads of engineering at Goddard. At the room center’s Flight Knowledge Techniques and Radiation Consequences Department, she led a group of engineers who designed flight pcs and storage programs. Despite the fact that it was a steep understanding curve for her, she says, she loved it. 3 years later on, she was heading the department.

She bought a different marketing, in 2010, to chief of the electrical engineering division. As the Goddard Engineering Directorate’s 1st feminine division main, she led a crew of 270 staff who built, designed, and analyzed electronics and electrical techniques for NASA devices and spacecraft.

vintage photograph of woman smiling in group of 3 peopleBarth (remaining) and Moira Stanton at the 1997 RADiation and its Consequences on Components and Programs Conference, held in Cannes, France. Barth and Stanton coauthored a poster paper and received the fantastic poster paper award.Janet Barth

Working on the James Webb Area Telescope

All over her occupation, Barth was involved in the progress of the Webb room telescope. Whenever she believed that she was completed with the significant job, she says with a laugh, her route would “intersect with Webb once again.”

She initial encountered the Webb venture in the late 1990s, when she was requested to be on the preliminary analyze crew for the telescope.

She wrote its house-setting specs. Right after they ended up printed in 1998, even so, the group understood that there have been several elaborate difficulties to solve with the telescope’s detectors. The Goddard crew supported Matt Greenhouse, John C. Mather, and other engineers to work on the difficult issues. Greenhouse is a job scientist for the telescope’s science instrument payload. Mather gained the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for discoveries supporting the Large Bang design.

The Webb’s detectors take up photons—light from significantly-absent galaxies, stars, and planets—and change them into digital voltages. Barth and her crew labored with Greenhouse and Mather to confirm that the detectors would get the job done whilst exposed to the radiation environment at the L2 Lagrangian position, one particular of the positions in area exactly where human-despatched objects tend to keep put.

A long time later on, when Barth was heading the Flight Knowledge Techniques and Radiation Outcomes department, she oversaw the growth of the telescope’s instrument command and details dealing with programs. For the reason that of her critical purpose, Barth’s name was published on the telescope’s instrument ICDH flight box.

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

“At that point,” she suggests, “we focused on the mechanics of deployment and the threats that came with not getting ready to absolutely test it in the atmosphere it would be introduced and deployed in.”

She served on that panel until eventually she retired. In 2019, 5 many years soon after retiring, she joined the Miller Engineering and Investigation Corp. advisory board. The business, based in Pasadena, Md., manufactures sections for aerospace and aviation companies.

“I truly like the ethics of the organization. They assistance science missions and crewed missions,” Barth claims. “I went back to my roots, and that is been definitely fulfilling.”

The greatest matters about being an IEEE member

Barth and her spouse, Douglas, who is also an engineer, joined IEEE in 1989. She states they delight in belonging to a “unique peer group.” She especially likes attending IEEE conferences, acquiring accessibility to journals, and getting able to get continuing education and learning courses and workshops, she states.

“I keep up to day on the enhancements in science and engineering,” she states, “and heading to conferences retains me inspired and enthusiastic in what I do.” The networking options are “terrific,” she provides, and she’s been ready to satisfy persons from just about all engineering industries.

An lively IEEE volunteer for extra than 20 yrs, she is government chairwoman of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society’s Radiation Effects Steering Group, and she served as 2013–2014 president of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Culture. She also is an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science.

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