“Even one person’s failure is resolved together… “Lifelong pride in space research at NASA” – Dong-A Ilbo VRESP

Dayoung Koh, NASA JPL researcher who calculates the orbit of the ‘treasure asteroid’ probe Foreign researchers also fully support… My long-held dream has come true, and Korea’s Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is about to be opened with excitement, is… I hope you will be proud of your research as an affiliated researcher.

Ko Da-young, a Korean researcher at NASA JPL, calculates the location of ‘Psyche’. Provided by Dayoung Ko

To explore ‘Psyche’, which is called a ‘treasure asteroid’ due to its abundance of metals, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the probe ‘Psyche’ on October 13 last year. There is a Korean researcher who calculated and designed the orbit so that the probe can safely reach its destination. Dayoung Ko is a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

We recently met him through a video interview and he did not spare any advice about the Korea Aerospace Administration. He said, “NASA JPL researchers take pride in being able to do space-related research for the rest of their lives,” and added, “For Korea’s Aerospace Exploration Agency, location is not the key either. “We need to think about the pride that comes from being part of the Aerospace Administration,” he said.

Researcher Ko said that he is still calculating the orbit and location of Psyche, which is scheduled to arrive in 2029. Psyche investigates various minerals such as iron, cobalt, platinum, and nickel that fill the asteroid ’16 Psyche’ in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The economic value of this mineral is said to be worth 1,000 quintillion dollars.

Researcher Ko graduated from Ajou University and a doctoral program in aerospace engineering at the University of Southern California, USA. He has been working at NASA JPL since his internship in 2016. NASA has been his long-time dream. He said, “Ever since I was in elementary school, I have often observed Jupiter and Saturn while attending astronomical observation clubs and science camps. From then on, I have desperately wanted to reach Jupiter.” Recently, he attracted attention from academia by creating an algorithm that uses geometry and mechanics to calculate the movement of three objects in space.

When asked whether there were any difficulties as the period of dreaming was long, Researcher Ko responded, “It’s still a job that makes my heart beat, so I forget about the hard times.” According to him, NASA is not tolerant of foreigners. Because NASA’s work is directly related to security issues, there are meetings that foreigners cannot attend and buildings and servers that foreigners cannot enter. Despite these difficulties, Researcher Ko said, “Other than that, there is no discrimination, so I am conducting space research to my heart’s content.”

Researcher Koh said that the greatest advantage of working at NASA is “the pride of being able to work at the forefront of space research for the rest of my life.” According to Researcher Ko, there are many people at NASA JPL who are fascinated by space. When we meet by chance on the street and start talking about what we each do, we often end up chatting for hours.

He said, “There are many people who have worked for more than 30 years, so the idea of ​​a ‘job for life’ is strong,” and “There are people who have long hair and wear torn T-shirts, so they are free to dress freely.” This is in contrast to the criticism that the Korea Aerospace Administration, which dreams of becoming a ‘Korean version of NASA’, is imposing a hiring condition that extends up to 10 years after signing a 5-year contract, which may cause employment instability.

“I hope the National Aeronautics and Space Administration helps employees develop ‘pride.’ The NASA JPL laboratory where I work does not have the most up-to-date facilities compared to so-called ‘popular’ information technology (IT) companies. However, I think we are receiving full support to do space research, which is not easy for everyone.”

Another advantage of NASA was the ‘atmosphere of looking at failure as a problem for the entire company and trying to solve it, rather than just one person’s problem.’ He said, “Last year, the Psyche mission was delayed due to someone’s fault with a few months left before launch. However, his colleagues did not criticize him and continued to discuss how to solve the problem. When he saw that the problem was eventually resolved quickly, he said, ‘NASA “I gained more trust in my work because I thought that my colleagues would lead each other instead of being demoted due to a momentary failure,” he said.

Chae-rin Lee, Donga Science Reporter [email protected]

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