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Dr Nicola Fox Returns to St. Francis' College

September 11, 2019

On Tuesday, the Year 9 students were given an inspiring talk by Dr Nicola Fox – an old girl of St. Francis’ College and the current Director of Heliophysics at NASA. She is responsible for all the work that NASA does in regards to studying the sun and its interaction with the Earth and the rest of the Solar System.

Dr Fox was born in Hitchin and was a St. Francis' College student in the 1980s. She graduated from Imperial College London and earned a Master's Degree at the University of Surrey.

Dr Fox gave us an overview of her academic and career progression before talking in detail about the project she has worked on most recently, the Parker Solar probe. The probe is in an elliptical orbit around the sun and gets far closer to our nearest star than any other probe before it. It is designed to study the outer atmosphere of the sun and is trying to answer several unknown questions about the sun’s atmosphere including why the temperature of the Corona increases as you get further away. The probe beats several records including the fastest human-made object – it will eventually reach 430 000 mph!

The Year 9 were captivated by the talk and there was time for a number of questions at the end; including how the mission avoided space-junk orbiting the Earth and the difficulties of putting humans into space. Many of the students stayed behind to ask further questions and were clearly inspired to think about a possible career in the space industry.

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