2024 NASA interns

Six tertiary students have been selected to work on NASA projects in the US.

Through the New Zealand Space Scholarship, the New Zealand Space Agency is sponsoring students to participate in internship programmes at NASA’s Ames Research Center and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). These programmes offer research opportunities to post-graduate students who have compatible research interests with JPL and Ames. The programmes take place at the JPL and Ames facilities in California and internships typically last 10 to 16 weeks.

As part of their internships, students are partnered with NASA scientists, who serve as the students' mentors. Students complete designated projects outlined by their mentors, gaining educational experience in their fields of study while also contributing to NASA missions and science.

Opportunities for collaboration with a diverse range of other interns and staff are provided in both formal and informal settings.

This is the second cohort of Kiwi students selected to undertake in-person internships at JPL and the third cohort to undertake internships at Ames. The 2021 and 2022 JPL Internship Programme was offered online under the NASA JPL Covid-19 remote working conditions.

Interns' vlogs – 2024 NASA interns

JPL interns 2024

Narottam Royal

Narottam is completing a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Canterbury. His research looks at techniques for remotely tracking the orientation of spacecraft.

Narottam will intern at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he will work with NASA’s Deep Space Network, the largest and most sensitive telecommunications system in the world.

Tait Francis

Tait is completing a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Otago, looking at the composition of atmospheric aerosols on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Tait will carry out experiments using facilities at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory not currently available in New Zealand. Titan is considered ideal for studying the kinds of chemical interactions that occurred before life developed on Earth.

Axl Rogers

Axl, is nearing completion of his PhD in Astrophysics at the Auckland University of Technology and works part-time at SpaceOps NZ’s Warkworth Space Centre, north of Auckland.

During his internship Axl will work with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory team that is using Delta Differential One-way Ranging technique to determine spacecraft position. This is directly applicable to the work he will be doing at the Warkworth Space Centre when it begins supporting deep space missions later this year.

Grace Jacobs Corban

Grace has recently completed her master’s degree in Science in Society at Victoria University of Wellington, with a particular interest in science communication.

During her internship at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Grace will help to develop science education material for NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program. One of the program’s aims is to communicate exoplanet science in a clear and accessible way to engage the public and scientists of today and tomorrow. Following the internship, Grace will begin a PhD in Maths Education.

Ames interns 2024

Faun Watson

Faun Watson is completing a PhD in Physics at Victoria University of Wellington, with a research interest in sustainable satellite de-orbiting devices.

Faun will work with the Aerothermodynamics Branch at NASA’s Ames Research Center, which supports the development of advanced entry technology. Specifically, Faun will carry out modelling and simulation work using data from NASA’s new Low Density Shock Tube.

Alexandra McKendry

Alexandra is completing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Canterbury, with a research interest in neuromorphic engineering.

While at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Alexandra will be looking at how neuromorphic computing could be used to expand the autonomous capabilities of small spacecraft.

Last updated: 28 May 2024