NASA Job: Theoretical Physics & Astrophysicist Research

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In summary: NASA. Having 'worked for' NASA in the past, may I offer the following perspective?First, there are lots of ways one may 'work for' NASA. Being a civil servant (government employee), a contractor/subcontractor, a research grant recipient, etc. Civil servant: The answer to your question is 'no'. Contractor/subcontractor: The answer to your question is likely 'no'. Research grant recipient: The answer to your question is possibly 'yes'. Having 'worked for' NASA in the past, may I offer the following perspective?First, there are lots of ways one may 'work for' NASA. Being
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Is it possible to be a theoretical physics and astrophysicist and still do independent research while working for NASA?
 
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  • #2
If you have the willpower and work ethic to do it all, by all means.
 
  • #3
lol, a theoretical physicist and astrophysicist while being productive at NASA...lol!

unless you've got the brain of Enrico Fermi, that sounds reallllly tough. then again, I tend to think that I'm a theoretical and an astrophysicist. all i need to do is get a job at NASA.
 
  • #4
orthovector said:
lol, a theoretical physicist and astrophysicist while being productive at NASA...lol!

unless you've got the brain of Enrico Fermi, that sounds reallllly tough. then again, I tend to think that I'm a theoretical and an astrophysicist. all i need to do is get a job at NASA.

From my studies so far I find that astrophysics isn't al that diffrent from normal physics, I know I could do both, I'm just not sure abought the NASA part.
 
  • #5
Stratosphere said:
From my studies so far I find that astrophysics isn't al that diffrent from normal physics, I know I could do both, I'm just not sure abought the NASA part.



Why's that?
 
  • #6
To answer both your first question, and this one:
Stratosphere said:
From my studies so far I find that astrophysics isn't al that diffrent from normal physics, I know I could do both, I'm just not sure abought the NASA part.

Yes, you can work for NASA while being an astrophysicist/theoretical physicist. They employ people from a variety of professions, not just aerospace engineers and astronauts.

Look: http://astrophysics.gsfc.nasa.gov/
http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/ask_an_astronomer.html

Plus, if you are an astrophysicist, you can also become an astronaut, because they choose people from various professions, such as biologists, for example.
orthovector said:
lol, a theoretical physicist and astrophysicist while being productive at NASA...lol!

unless you've got the brain of Enrico Fermi, that sounds reallllly tough. then again, I tend to think that I'm a theoretical and an astrophysicist. all i need to do is get a job at NASA.

As far as I know, there are a multitude of people with careers in theoretical physics and astrophysics. They don't all have the brain of Fermi, trust me.

I also want to be a theoretical physicist/astrophysicist, most likely going to work for NASA. I hope my answer helped you. :biggrin:
 
  • #7
klite said:
To answer both your first question, and this one:


Yes, you can work for NASA while being an astrophysicist/theoretical physicist. They employ people from a variety of professions, not just aerospace engineers and astronauts.

Look: http://astrophysics.gsfc.nasa.gov/
http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/ask_an_astronomer.html

Plus, if you are an astrophysicist, you can also become an astronaut, because they choose people from various professions, such as biologists, for example.


As far as I know, there are a multitude of people with careers in theoretical physics and astrophysics. They don't all have the brain of Fermi, trust me.

I also want to be a theoretical physicist/astrophysicist, most likely going to work for NASA. I hope my answer helped you. :biggrin:

Maybe one day I will meet you. :biggrin:
 
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Maybe one day I will meet you fine gentlemen also.
 
  • #9
Stratosphere said:
Is it possible to be a theoretical physics and astrophysicist and still do independent research while working for NASA?

Having 'worked for' NASA in the past, may I offer the following perspective?

First, there are lots of ways one may 'work for' NASA. Being a civil servant (government employee), a contractor/subcontractor, a research grant recipient, etc.

Civil servant: The answer to your question is 'no'.
Contractor/subcontractor: The answer to your question is likely 'no'.
Research grant recipient: The answer to your question is possibly 'yes'.
 
  • #10
Andy Resnick said:
Having 'worked for' NASA in the past, may I offer the following perspective?

First, there are lots of ways one may 'work for' NASA. Being a civil servant (government employee), a contractor/subcontractor, a research grant recipient, etc.

Civil servant: The answer to your question is 'no'.
Contractor/subcontractor: The answer to your question is likely 'no'.
Research grant recipient: The answer to your question is possibly 'yes'.

Andy has the gist of it but he is not completely correct either. I fall into the 3rd category listed above (Research grant recipient) and my grant allows my office to be housed within NASA. So, I am in close contact with civil servants, contractors and other grant recipients.

I have some colleagues and friends who are civil servants (who are also theoretical physicists, as am I) and they spend the vast majority of their time doing either bureaucratic work (paperwork, forms, meetings) or engineering. They do, however, fit in some basic science from time to time when the need arises and they have the time in their schedule to do it. How much of it depends on the person really. Typically, though, any major research project is granted out.
 
  • #11
Norman said:
Andy has the gist of it but he is not completely correct either. I fall into the 3rd category listed above (Research grant recipient) and my grant allows my office to be housed within NASA. So, I am in close contact with civil servants, contractors and other grant recipients.

I have some colleagues and friends who are civil servants (who are also theoretical physicists, as am I) and they spend the vast majority of their time doing either bureaucratic work (paperwork, forms, meetings) or engineering. They do, however, fit in some basic science from time to time when the need arises and they have the time in their schedule to do it. How much of it depends on the person really. Typically, though, any major research project is granted out.

So as a theoretical physicist and astrophysicist what would I do working for NASA?
 
  • #12
Novel propulsion schemes, exoplanet searches, human spaceflight issues (water management, radiation protection, dust, etc.). Stuff like that.
 
  • #13
Youre probably not going to be working on inflationary theory.
 
  • #14
Would I need to be an observational astrophysist or a theoreticle astrophysics?
 
  • #15
Stratosphere said:
Would I need to be an observational astrophysist or a theoreticle astrophysics?

It depends on what you like.

Observational Astrophysicists: extracts physical information from astronomical observations which can be directly compared with the models, and uses theoretical models to suggest unambiguous observational tests.

Theoretical Astrophysicists: use theoretical models and computer simulations to understand a variety of fundamental astrophysical phenomena such as: the formation and dynamics of planets in the solar system and around other stars, the physics of accretion flows and jets around black holes and neutron stars, the role of supermassive black holes in galaxy formation, the growth of the first stars and galaxy halos, the cosmic microwave background and ionization history of the universe, the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and the properties of the primordial seeds responsible for the growth of structure in the universe. (from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics).

If you are going for NASA, I'd say choose theoretical astrophysics, it's the one that encompasses more information, and objects that are further out in space. Personally, I like theoretical astrophysics more, but this is your choice.
 

1. What qualifications do I need to have in order to be considered for a NASA job as a theoretical physicist or astrophysicist?

In order to be considered for a NASA job as a theoretical physicist or astrophysicist, you will typically need to have a PhD in physics, astronomy, or a related field. You may also need to have experience conducting research in these fields, as well as strong mathematical and computational skills.

2. What types of projects will I be working on as a theoretical physicist or astrophysicist at NASA?

As a theoretical physicist or astrophysicist at NASA, you may work on a variety of projects related to the study of the universe and its physical laws. This could include researching dark matter and dark energy, the origins of the universe, and the behavior of celestial bodies such as black holes and neutron stars.

3. Will I have the opportunity to collaborate with other scientists and researchers at NASA?

Yes, working with other scientists and researchers is a crucial aspect of being a theoretical physicist or astrophysicist at NASA. You may collaborate with others within your team, as well as with scientists from other departments and institutions, to conduct research and share knowledge and expertise.

4. Are there any specific skills or knowledge areas that are particularly valuable for a NASA job as a theoretical physicist or astrophysicist?

Strong analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as a deep understanding of physics and mathematics, are essential for a career in theoretical physics and astrophysics at NASA. Additionally, proficiency in computer programming and data analysis is becoming increasingly important in these fields.

5. What is the potential for career advancement and growth in a NASA job as a theoretical physicist or astrophysicist?

The potential for career advancement and growth in these roles at NASA is significant. As you gain experience and expertise, you may have the opportunity to lead your own research projects or even become a principal investigator on a NASA mission. Additionally, there are opportunities for leadership and management roles within the organization.

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