July 5

Seven o’clock: the blaring alarm sounded to awake us weary-eyed souls from our post July 4th celebrations (or fireworks interspersed with lightning, rain, and wind) for our weekly Tuesday field trip. This week, we were headed to Bandelier National Monument, a monument of prehistoric Pueblo settlements located near Santa Fe–who knew that the Pueblos built pueblos? Of course, no field trip would be complete without long bus rides filled with sleeping, sleeping, and sleeping while playing Mafia.

During our hike we learned first-hand the struggles of living in the dry arid New Mexico desert. Climbing up tall burning ladders and railings with one person atop another–what could go wrong, right? Fortunately we at SSP are some of the most fit students in the world, and we finished the hike with no problem!

Later in the day, as I stood atop a 140-ft ladder and looked across a valley of trees and rocks with the other students, I reflected on my experience so far at SSP. The towering cliffs and mountains we overlooked represented the  mountains of knowledge we gain while toiling through problem sets, listening to long derivations, and working on Python codes, making the climb worthwhile. Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture around me both literally and figuratively gave me a new perspective into the immersive, collaborative, yet fun learning environment that SSP provides.

I can’t believe we are almost halfway through the program, time flies so fast! We are currently working on astrometry code and learning about the process for our orbit determination. Last night my group was able to get our second set of images thanks to the weather gods, and we even saw a satellite or airplane that looked like a shooting star (“Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars?” -B.o.B.) in one of the images.

Before my computer freezes again,
See you later!
-Chris W.

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