"You can make the claim that airborne transport of dust gives us rum.” an interview with Hal Maring

Recorded February 15, 2019 Archived February 15, 2019 20:00 minutes
Id: APP614334


Hal Maring once risked his life for a box of fog. The physical scientist at NASA Headquarters was once on a New Zealand research cruise in the Tasman Sea when the vessel hit bad weather. They took down some of their research equipment to protect it from massive waves on the ship as it was getting tossed around, and Maring was carrying a rain funnel about a meter in diameter with a sample of fog critical for some research on the effect rainfall has on airborne particles in the area.

He was climbing down a latter but slipped on the water and hydraulic oil washing over the deck. A colleague grabbed him by the shoulders of his rain jacket and slid along with Maring, who still held the sample on his stomach, towards the open side of the boat where nothing but a chain could stop them from plunging into the rough night sea. He missed the chain and nearly went over the side, but his colleague caught the chain and saved him and his precious research fog.

“I was married at the time; I had a six-month-old child – it was a really stupid decision I made,” Maring says the experience made him realize how much he cared about the work he did. Now his focus has shifted to maximizing the science NASA missions can achieve and dispensing funding for research proposals, but he says he never asks grant applicants whether they’d risk dying at sea for a research sample. (Recorded 12 December 2018)


  • Hal Maring
  • Josh Learn
  • AGU Narratives

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