A young Greek student from Thessaloniki, has become the newest member of the NASA research team. Menelaos Raptis, who studies at the Franklin & Marshall College of Astrophysics, is also a member of the National Robotics Team and the Youngest Ambassador of Space in 2017. Now, he will be working on working on the new James Webb Space Telescope project analysing data.
The particular telescope is the largest optical one in space tasked with infrared astronomy, the study and observation of astronomical objects using infrared radiation.
Greek student pursuing lifelong dream
Raptis spoke of his elation when discussing his nomination to the team with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency. “I am honored and delighted to now be part of the NASA research team that will [analyze] the data from the James Webb Space Telescope,” he explained.
The youthful Greek also spoke of the numerous skills he had developed through the academic programs offered at Franklin & Marshall College.
“In collaboration with a professor from the Astronomy and Physics department of the college, I prepared myself for quite difficult and demanding challenges, mainly in programming but also in astrophysics.”
The young astrophysicist emphasized that “the pre-existing basic knowledge [he] had in programming and specifically in the Python programming language, was greatly enhanced, directing [him] from [his] existing knowledge towards improvement and enrichment.”
“After this challenging training, the professor in charge considered me not only competent but also the ideal student to be given the opportunity to analyze space data with the professor in charge. I will not hide that during my first academic semester I demonstrated perseverance, patience, but above all passion!”
Raptis concluded his statements to the paper by declaring “I am convinced that this love for research, innovation, and science is what set me apart, what gave me the ticket to a dream come true”.
Όλοι αύριο στην αμερικανική γεωργική σχολή για την πληροφόρηση σχετικά με τον διεθνή διαγωνισμό International Young Naturalists’ Tournament pic.twitter.com/HO5OQZIVDh
— Menelaos Raptis (@MenelaosRaptis) September 20, 2019
The difficult road to success
Raptis seems set to follow in the footsteps of other Greek astrophysicists, such as John Paraskevopoulos, who helped man understand the universe. He has faced many challenges on the road to success. However, he has now skillfully managed to overcome them.
“The research and the courses were particularly difficult,” Raptis revealed in his interview. “The biggest challenge for me, however, was to properly develop the capacity for adaptability so that I could cope with new conditions, living thousands of [kilometers] away from Greece.”
“It is difficult to be able to communicate proficiently in a foreign language and to express your thoughts fully,” he stated. “It is difficult to study for many hours every day, and it is difficult to cope with competition, but it is almost impossible to transfer your heart to another place.”
“I have never been able to do that, nor do I wish for that to happen,” he said. “Throughout my academic career so far, however, I have been able to control strong emotions and I believe that achieving emotional balance and maturity were the elements that ultimately helped me stand out.”
Raptis joins several other young Greek scientists who are making a name for themselves with NASA.