Mason Rhodes’ Path to Opportunities

Mason Rhodes in a navy Artemis polo shirt, standing in front of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with his finger on top of the spacecraft at a far distance at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Mason Rhodes in a navy Artemis polo shirt, standing in front of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with his finger on top of the spacecraft at a far distance at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Since the 8th grade, Mason Rhodes knew he wanted to be a part of NASA’s journey and research in some capacity. Rhodes is currently a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Arkansas State University to get a chance to have a well-rounded education. By keeping up to date with NASA missions and projects, Rhodes was fascinated by NASA’s goal of researching and extending everyone’s knowledge of space.

Projects and the Space Grant

Mason Rhodes is a former NASA intern from the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. During his internship, he tested and modified a robotic arm as part of the Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) program that assisted in collecting and analyzing dust samples for lunar missions. The robot that Rhodes worked on is also easily interchangeable to allow for quick arrangements of parts and elements for different missions and requirements.

Rhodes was also affiliated with the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium Workforce Development Grant, during his internship. At NASA, the Space Grant expands opportunities for individuals to understand and participate in NASA’s aeronautics and space projects by supporting and enhancing science and engineering education, as well as research and public outreach efforts. Its main goal is to contribute to the nation’s science enterprise by funding education, research, and public engagement projects through a national network of university-based Space Grant consortia.

From Nowhere to Somewhere

Rhodes had a personal goal to obtain a NASA internship for about a decade. Growing up in the middle of Arkansas, he saw that there were no NASA centers within a 300+ mile radius. For the longest time, he believed that he did not have the experience and opportunity to even work at NASA. With this opportunity, he developed a passion for the work, and the ideals that the organization pushed upon him are beyond anything else.

“I didn’t go to your top college, I didn’t live in a hub for science, and I was just a student from a lower-income household a half-hour away from your nearest city. However, I quickly realized through my time at NASA that my previous judgments were entirely misconceived. It’s important to remember that anyone can be a NASA Intern. Regardless of where you came from, anyone and everyone can shape tomorrow,” Rhodes stated.

NASA offers opportunities for everyone! Check out our website for more information about these opportunities we have in store for you. Additionally, feel free to check out Joseph Birtman, another former NASA Intern, who believed that he couldn’t get an internship based on his skill sets and prior experience.

Liz Wilk: Getting the Picture at Goddard Space Flight Center

Ten years ago, I never imagined where I would be at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Graduating from high school in the far south suburbs of Chicago, I received my bachelor’s degree in history, taking film production classes along the way. After spending a summer at an archaeology field school deciding what to pursue for graduate school, I became aware and frustrated with the lack of educational, factual engaging media in regards to history. That led me to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Science & Natural History Filmmaking at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.

The Science & Natural History Filmmaking program at Montana State University is the first program to offer a Master’s of Fine Arts in the area of science and natural history film. Students and alums work on various projects from blue chip films with BBC, programming for National Geographic, independent films about environmental issues and videos for the National Parks Service, NASA and more. The MFA was founded to teach scientists how to make films in a response to watered down science and pseudo-science programming that became prevalent.

While attending Montana State University, I worked on a multitude of projects from a feature film to smaller documentaries on the wildlife of the greater-Yellowstone ecosystem, geology and more. It was while working on a full-dome planetarium film about gravitational waves when I became interested in interning at NASA. While working on the shoot, I had the opportunity to visit Goddard to film 360 video for the film, Einstein’s Gravity Playlist, where I met and learned about the projects that video producers at NASA work on.

Working in videography at NASA has been a great experience with its own challenges that are rewarding when they are conquered. It is hard to compare to other internships, but doing videography is always interesting. One day I might be interviewing an astronaut, the next day I might be helping to broadcast interviews with scientists across the country, and later that day working on the latest edit of a video we might be working on. It’s always exciting to see what each day brings. One thing I would say to remember or point out with film as part of science communication, is how important it is. Most people tend to only think of science communication as strictly journalism, but there are so many more mediums to communicate through which is why I am drawn toward 360 video and virtual reality to explore how it can be used to communicate in a more immersive way.

While at NASA, I had the opportunity to help with live shots in Goddard’s broadcast studio, and recently finished a video piece for the Hubble Space Telescope to celebrate some of the women who are connected to spacecraft. While working on the film, I met many inspiring women who carry the same message of perseverance paying off.

With only a month left, I will be concentrating on 360 video content for Goddard.