Dr. Roeland van der Marel

Astronomer, Space Telescope Science Institute

Roeland van der Marel takes measurements for a living, but everyday tools like tape measures, kitchen scales, and speedometers won’t suffice.

He needs more precise tools, such as NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Gaia space observatory, because he measures the movements of stars and galaxies. And as a tenured astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Dr. Van der Marel has such tools at his disposal.

In fact, the tools he uses measure precisely enough to detect from Earth the speed at which hair grows on a person standing on the moon.

“That may be an odd example, but it illustrates how challenging this work really is,” Dr. Van der Marel said. “We can achieve such accuracies only by building and using some of the most technologically advanced tools ever conceived.”

Read his full story.