An Interview with Bonnie Buratti

Meet Dawn Participating Scientist Bonnie Buratti
The following interview is a written interview conducted by the Outreach team at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
Dawn participating scientist Bonnie Buratti

What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Dawn mission?

Astronomers have studied this asteroid for decades, seeing it as little more than a point of light. Now it will become a real geological world.

How are you participating in Dawn science as it relates to the Dawn mission?

I will provide light-scattering models and understand the textural properties of Vesta.

What are some of the challenges that accompany your job with the Dawn mission?

Predicting what Vesta looks like at geometries we do not see from Earth. Also, dealing with a potato-shaped object.

What do you enjoy most about your work with the Dawn mission?

There is no game plan or manual—you have to figure out as we go along.

Describe your thoughts and feelings as the Dawn spacecraft is approaching at Vesta?

What are those splotches we barely see in Hubble images?

What are the most critical aspects of your job in the next several months in preparation for Vesta arrival?

How bright is Vesta when it is only partly illuminated? –finding that out. Also observing asteroids similar to Vesta (vestoids) to figure out what Vesta will look like.

What are your leisure time activities?

Hiking (often with my three sons), cooking, gardening, reading, ice skating, knitting, and sewing.

Do you have a yet-to-be-achieved life goal?

I am working on a book, and I would like to finish it soon and get it published.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A scientist or engineer.

At what point did you determine that you would pursue a career in space science? Tell about the path that led you to this field.

Very early I was drawn into the wonder and joy of discovery and exploration. I remember in third grade being mesmerized by A Child's Book of Stars (not the Hollywood type). I was also fascinated by how things work.

Who inspired you? Why?

Various people: A middle school algebra teacher who said girls could do math–and mentioned Maria Goeppert-Mayer; my thesis advisor (Joe Veverka) who taught me to press on regardless; and my family.

What subjects were you interested in as a young student?

Everything except fashion.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

A Wrinkle in Time taught me it was okay to be smart, different, and courageous, and that it was okay to dream.

What advice would you give to aspiring engineers or scientists?

Never give up, and ignore naysayers.

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