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Allison Wallace - solar guides


Alison Wallace-Hartshorn


Ryan MilliganWhat do you do?


I work at the University of London as a careers adviser. I carried out research at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, MSSL, in University College London, UCL. At MSSL they build instruments for solar missions as well as doing science.


One of the instruments which we helped to build is the EUV Imaging Spectrometer, EIS, on a satellite called Hinode.


One summer I got the chance to go out to Japan to plan the observations made by the Hinode/EIS.


It was so exciting to know that I was sending commands up to the Hinode spacecraft.


Some of the Hinode team


Here I am with some other members of the Hinode team


How did you get interested in astronomy?


My Dad has always been interested in astronomy and so I have fond memories of his enthusiasm for the subject.  One night when I was about 7, he woke me, my brother and sister up in the middle of a cold winter’s night.  I lived in Scotland then and he showed us the most beautiful aurora. 


Aurora and Halleys comet

An aurora: credit- iStockphoto                                        Halley’s comet image courtesy of NASA enhanced by Brad Fregger


Another time we looked through his binoculars at Halley’s comet.  I remember him saying that the next time I would be able to see it I would be 83 years old! I was amazed by how big the universe is – I was hooked on astronomy!


What did you do before you came to MSSL?


After I finished my BSc in Astronomy & Astrophysics in 2000, I really didn’t want to do any more studying. So I worked in various industries but I eventually settled into building engineering. It was a really high pressure environment but also very rewarding, it was such a buzz to meet all the near-impossible deadlines. But deep down I knew I wanted to do astrophysics and so eventually after 6 years, I went back to University to study Space Science at UCL.


What do you do when you’re not working?


Alison playing Capoeira


I love playing Capoeira.  It comes from Brazil and is a cross between a martial art, dance and acrobatics.  It is very sociable and you play the game surrounded by a circle of other capoeiristas who all clap their hands, play music and sing songs.   I like it mostly because I like being upside down!


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