Get to Know Gemini! Atsuko Nitta

Get to Know Gemini is a new series of blog posts aimed to highlight the different careers, backgrounds, and types of people contributing to Gemini Observatory and its science.

Name:  Atsuko Nitta

What is your current position and at which telescope?

Gemini North Head of Science Operations at Gemini North. I am also a “Scientist”.

In four lines or less, explain what you do as part of the Gemini Observatory team?

Our job in science operations is to make sure we deliver the scientific data as the users requested so that they can make progress on the cutting edge research – which will help us better understand our Universe.  My role is to make sure the Gemini North Science Operation team are doing the right thing to make that happen and make sure the team has the resources to do their jobs well.

How long have you worked for Gemini?

12 years

What drew you to this job?

It is exciting to be at the forefront of science – to contribute new knowledge to human kind.  Observatory is where large number of people with various different background/skills come together for purpose of expanding our knowledge of the universe. I enjoy working with people with diverse background and I enjoy working  in a team to get exciting things get done/accomplished.

What is the best part of your job?

Being one of the first to learn about new discoveries. Seeing the team find solutions to difficult problems.  Because our team consists of people with different strengths, together, there is hardly any weakness. I think this is the strength of having intelligent diverse team and I am proud to be a part of it.

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

Tokyo, Japan.

What skill do you think is most important to know for your job?

To enjoy what you do both technically and socially i.e. if you don’t like working with people, then observatory is not a good place to be.

Why is astronomy important?

It is the field where we try to answer the fundamental question of our and our universe’s existence. Along the way, we also develop technologies that come handy.

In three lines, explain your PhD thesis.

Seismological studies on a star to find out physics under extreme condition truly happens the way we think it does. Just like the geologists use earth quake to find out what the inside of the earth is like, I did seismological analysis on stars to find out what they look like inside.

What are your current research interests?

The relationship between mass and magnetic field of white dwarf stars. On the origin of the He atmosphere white dwarf stars.

What is your favorite movie?

Nauticaa of the valley of the wind

What is the latest book you have read?

I am currently reading “Principles”.

What is one hobby of yours?


Favorite beverage?

Hot tea

Check back next month to learn more about the staff that help Gemini to explore the Universe and share its wonders!

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