Springfield Native, Astrophysicist, And Thurston Shooting Survivor Has Part In Parker Solar Probe

Aug 12, 2018

In the pre-dawn hours Sunday morning, the Parker Solar Probe blasted off from Cape Canaveral.  Among those watching was an astrophysicist who worked on the unique spacecraft…who’s also a Springfield native and survivor of the 1998 Thurston School Shooting. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

Tony Case and colleagues at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and UC Berkeley designed a vital instrument for the Parker Solar Probe that launched early on August 12, 2018.
Credit NASA/Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr.

Tony Case is with the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He and other scientists designed an instrument called the solar probe cup.

“It’s an instrument that measures the particles flowing from the sun, that we call the solar wind," explains Case.

Scientists collaborate on the design and technology incorporated into the Parker Solar Probe.
Credit Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

"Our instrument pokes around the heat shield, looks directly at the sun… it really is just a cup, and particles just kinda flow into it and we catch them, and count how many of them there are.”

Conceptual rendering of the Parker Solar Probe nearing the sun.
Credit Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Case watched the Parker Solar Probe take off from the Kennedy Space Center, and said past the nerve-wracking launch, the next defining moment will be in roughly 45 days when they try to bring all the spacecraft’s instruments online.

Case was among two dozen injured in the Thurston High School shooting. He says he doesn’t give the incident much thought, focusing instead on his work and bright spots of his life. 

WEB EXTRA: See the launch of the Parker Solar Probe on August 12, 2018.

WEB EXTRA: Hear an extended conversation between Harvard Smithsonian astrophysicist Tony Case and KLCC's Brian Bull about the Parker Solar Probe mission, his team's contribution to the project, and how he observed the 20th anniversary of the Thurston School Shooting.

Tony Case, outside his Massachusetts home, 2018.
Credit Esteban Bustillos, WGBH

Copyright 2018, KLCC.