01.14.20

Rime of the Ancient Astronomer: Dr. Deborah Levine Waxes Poetic With a Spitzer Tale in Verse

I leapt from “Superfriend” to Ph.D.,
then learned Science Operations in Spain,
on ISO. ‘Til George and SIRTF lured me
back to apply the knowledge I had gained.

So much to hash out with JPL ops.
Can SIRTF sequence itself? How do we
operate safely and yet pull out stops
for unprecedented efficiency?

Conflict begot a team, and in suspense 
we all sat heart-in-mouth upon the beach—
years of work perching on a bomb.  Intense,
shared feelings as we watched it lift and reach.

     One by one, critical events came through.
     One by one, successes, and Spitzer grew.

I led teams scheduling the science time;
Fielded midnight calls for anomaly;
I worried if the data crunched on time
and if it met the bar of quality.

My role evolved, after operations
settled down. My teams became self-contained
I began to work on other missions.
And then I made a leap that fate ordained.

I’m now a community college prof —
teaching that gateway drug, astronomy,
of science. Spitzer’s end is not far off,
but still those moments live inside of me.

     The stories are there for my students now
     Missions end, but their mem’ries still endow.