Were you able to attend the AMA on Reddit yesterday featuring the women of the James Webb Telescope? You can still visit the Reddit page and see the questions that were asked. I asked the women to talk about their cleanroom experience, and here is what they said:
Amy Lo: JWST Alignments Thread Lead (Northrop Grumman Corporation)
The good part is, when you’re in a cleanroom, it’s usually because you’re working on hardware, which is hands on, and I enjoy that. The funny part, at least for me, is the gowning. The gowns and shoe covers are always too big, so I usually end up looking like a clown. And you have to put your shoes through a cleaner, which are basically fast whirring brushes. It’s so powerful that it has taken my shoes off and shot them across the room a few times.
Desiree Stover: Photographer (NASA Goddard)
You really have to plan your days when you are going to be in the cleanroom – forget about having your hair look good after a few hours in the cleanroom! It is also really cold, since the air is constantly moving, so you need to plan your outfits so you stay warm in the bunny suit (especially if you are in there for several hours) Also, many items are not allowed in the cleanroom because of contamination that you wouldn’t realize. They have special cleanroom paper that they use, and you cannot bring in cell phones. Essentially, you are cut off from the outside world a bit. So when you get back to your desk, you have many emails to respond to!
Julie Van Campen: JWST ISIM Deputy Systems Engineer (NASA Goddard)
Working in the cleanroom means a break from hayfever…. it is nice to escape from ragweed and dust for a while! When in the cleanroom, it is amazing to be up close with the hardware (not too close; we have contamination, damage and ESD precautions). The hardware looks cooler in person – more complicated and delicate – than it does in pictures. The amount of “hands-on” work that goes into building a one-of-a-kind piece of flight hardware is unbelievable. The hands-on technician work that occurs at GSFC is world class. This may not be advertised much. It takes years for someone to become skilled to work around and on the hardware we have. JWST would not be built without our incredibly talented technicians!
Flying shoes, bad hair days, and baggy bunny suits are some of the things women face in NASA’s cleanrooms. This was a great event, and it was a great chance for the public to interact with NASA. These ladies may still check back to answer some questions, so it isn’t too late if you weren’t able to join the conversation yesterday.