Space exploration captured Dave Doody’s imagination, early on.
Today, as a senior engineer at Caltech/JPL, his fascination with the solar system has only increased.
Dave, who served as Realtime Flight Operations Lead Engineer on NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn, has now been working for NASA for three decades. He began his career at the Jet Propulsion Lab, in Pasadena, as a member of the Voyager 2 flight team.
Next came the Magellan mission, in the 1980s, with its exploration of Venus. Then, in 1994, he began working on the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn.
The Cassini spacecraft, which launched in 1997, took seven years to arrive at the ringed planet. The mission would be a landmark one for NASA. Among the space probe’s discoveries: evidence of an ocean beneath the crust of Saturn’s moon, Titan.
Cassini’s “Grand Finale”, in September of 2017, resulted in unique scientific data. The orbiter sampled particles from the planet’s rings, mapped Saturn’s gravity fields and sent back close-up pictures during its final dives.
In addition to his work at NASA, Dave has published two books on space flight, and one that takes a look at “odd patents”–through Shakespeare’s eyes. He’s the lead author of NASA’s free online tutorial, “Basics of Space Flight”. He also teaches an annual class on “Basics of Interplanetary Flight” at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design.
At the 2017 San Gabriel Valley Pride Festival, Dave talked about his background, his experiences at NASA, and what “arts people” can learn from NASA’s scientific exploration.
On this edition of Over Coffee®, you’ll hear:
How Dave first became interested in space exploration;
What an “average day” was like for him, as lead engineer on Cassini;
Some of the most amazing findings from the Cassini spacecraft, during its 13 years of orbiting Saturn;
Dave’s “dream machine” he’d like to design, as a spacecraft engineer;
What Dave and his team saw during the final days of the Cassini orbiter;
What’s next, for him;
His advice to anyone else who might like to work for NASA;
How Dave first began teaching his class at the Art Center;
And, some of the mistakes which “arts people”–such as filmmakers–commonly make when depicting space flight!