The story of Mary the Egyptian, who co-developed the super telescope James Webb


07/16 14:55

The world is currently celebrating the unprecedented images of parts of the world dating back billions of years, announced by the US Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) using the “James Webb” super telescope, which will open the door to amazing discoveries. in in the future.

But what many may not know, the presence of an Egyptian girl in her twenties, contributed so much to the achievement of this achievement, through her contribution to the development and launch of “James Webb”, the telescope that took these photos .

The girl is Maryam Haitham Esmat, a doctoral researcher in astrophysics at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, who spoke in her first interview with Sky News Arabia after revealing the amazing NASA images.

After completing her basic training in Egypt, Maryam traveled with a scholarship to study physics, along with literature, in the United States, before being able to make her mark on a giant astronomical achievement the world is now talking about.

Maryam said: “I was a software engineer and worked on a very important part of this telescope, which is the Near-infrared camera instrument, to discover planets outside the solar system using electromagnetic radiation, and I worked on the engineering and software development for this camera. “

She added, “My participation in the work with the telescope was from June 2019 to January 2020, and it was initially a training during my undergraduate studies at Lycoming College in the United States, and then I worked on the development of the telescope as part of a large research team, and the period I worked within this team lasted about 6 months. ” “.

She explained: “My job was to solve the software problems of the infrared observation camera, to help scientists use the telescope tools to literally look back, to observe our universe as it was more than 13 billion years ago. “

To simplify it, she said: “The telescope has a number of instruments. I worked with a team on one of them, and my work was focused on the infrared camera, and how to show it to the planets. “

She added, “In other words, I had to know and understand the shape of these planets based on other previous research, and what we can see in the infrared, around a certain part of the instrument or camera on this basis. construct, to see these planets and expand our knowledge What is outside the solar system.

And about her reaction after announcing the first photos taken by the telescope, “James Webb”, Maryam said: “My eyes were teary and the world was not enough for my joy. The telescope will not only be the scientist community, but it will benefit the human race in general. I read about it while I was in Egypt and waited impatiently for the process. Its launch was delayed, and thankfully I traveled and studied the field and applied for training in it, and then I became part of a research team working on its development.

Maryam’s study was not only limited to astrophysics, but she also made progress in the study of literature, and about this she says: “I got my bachelor’s degree, the first in science with astrophysics with a minor in mathematics, and the second in English and American literature with creative writing as a major.

She added: “My postgraduate dissertation with a Bachelor’s degree in Astrophysics with the highest honor was on the topic of limiting the density of electrons in the galaxy, as it determined the number of stars in the Milky Way, which is the planet. Earth includes., Visible through gravitational and electromagnetic radiation from a telescope called LISA or (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna). ” .

“It is assumed that the LISA will be launched in 2034, and it will monitor the stars, black holes and other objects that produce gravitational waves,” she added.

She continued: “As for the bachelor’s degree in literature, it was about its development in all its forms and languages ​​from ancient Egypt to modern Egypt. An independent English language school for university students.

Regarding her cooperation with the Egyptian authorities, Maryam said: “I volunteered for the Egyptian Space Agency for 7 months as part of the Moon Village International project, where I headed the scientific research team. and gave lectures when I was invited to universities in Egypt.as much as possible in conferences and seminars, and covered the launch of the James Webb Telescope.In Arabic for the benefit of the Egyptian Society of Astronomy, I was glad and honored to inform Egypt and the Arab world at every opportunity. ”

Maryam praised her parents, saying, “They were highly educated. I grew up in a home that encouraged science, knowledge, and the arts in general. I am indescribably grateful to my father and mother for the help they have given me.”

The Egyptian researcher advised the new generations interested in the field of physics and astronomy, saying: “My advice is an extension of my mother’s advice: Do what you love and what makes you happy. Astronomy and cosmology have no other and many applications. “

And she continued, “Astronomy today can be started from any field that has weight in physics and math, so do what you love and follow the training programs in space agencies from their websites. Ask and inquire.”

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