Maggie Aderin-Pocock is a woman living her dream. As a child she saved her money to buy a telescope. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great quality telescope, but in an attempt to improve it she began attending night school to learn the skills herself. She was the youngest person in the class by some distance. The classes were successful: not only did she improve the telescope which allowed her to explore the sky above us, it also instilled in her an interest in the sciences. This would carry over to her formal education where she earned a degree in physics and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering.
Maggie has worked on a number of major projects including the James Webb Space Telescope which will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope when it launches in 2018. She also worked at the Gemini Observatory in Chile whose mission is to “advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the night sky.” In 2017 another project she worked on will launch, the ADM-Aeolus which aims to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting.
Maggie wants children to share the same excitement she had (and still has) for space, so she set up her own company to visit schools and show them the practical side of science. She has also turned her hand in recent years to getting adults interested in science by working on a number of documentaries for the BBC, and in 2014 she was named as the co-host of the astronomy programme The Sky at Night. In 2009 she was awarded an MBE for her services to education and science.
Despite all that she has achieved she still wants to do more. Her ambition as a child was to be an astronaut and even though she has helped built instruments that have gone into space, the desire to be a part of a manned mission has not left her. With her brains and determination I wouldn’t be surprised if she achieved this as well.