In this video, Associate Professor Craig Rodger describes how, as a young boy, he developed a passion for space exploration and travel by watching TV coverage of the Voyager and space shuttle missions. Whilst at secondary school, the influence of a great physics teacher set him on the path to study physics at the University of Otago.
I got into space physics because, when I was a kid, I was fascinated by the things that were being reported in the news.
But when I was a young person, maybe 6 or 7, the Voyager probes were launched by the Americans and sent out on the grand mission of discovery. So every year or so, there would be these amazing images coming from space. And then in the early 80s, there was the space shuttle launch, and space just seemed so fascinating.
It, at the time, seemed to me and still does seem to me to be the future. If we’re going to get anywhere as a society, we need to get up and out, we need to get off the Earth and get the resources that are out there, find new room, explore new spaces. Eventually, we’ll run out of things to explore on Earth, but if we go into space, it’s not infinite per se, but it’s so big, we’re not going to run out of things to explore in space, and that would be so exciting.
So I got into physics mainly because I had a really great physics teacher at high school. And I came to the University of Otago, and I found a door labelled ‘Space Physics”. And I thought, ‘wow, you can do space physics in New Zealand?’, and that’s how I ended up as space physicist, and now I’m an Associate Professor and I’m sort of the head of the group, but that’s how things happen.
Associate Professor Craig Rodger, University of Otago, Department of Physics