Amber Levy-Hope loved working from home. Most people that worked out of a house office sold makeup, or designed websites. What Amber did from their converted bedroom was far more ‘groovy’ as she had often explained it. She looked across billions of kilometers of space with a stereoscopic set of imaging satellites that orbited the sun millions of kilometers away. The entire system which was called POSIS was designed and managed by her. It was really a dream gig.
There were operators at a dozen ground stations that crunched data, analyzed the feeds, composited images, edited course maneuvers, and about a thousand other things. Amber could monitor it all from her lap top as she drank her morning coffee. It was by no means an easy job, and hardly anyone could do it as well as her. They were in the remote data business, make that the very remote data business, so it made total sense for Amber to work remotely.
Five different monitoring apps were on her screen. She watched the graphs spike and fall as a mountain of digital bits poured into an army of computers across the country. With the touch of a button Amber could be in instant contact with any of her lead operators at any of the facilities. Her eyes grew narrow and her lips pressed into a thin line. She didn’t like what she was seeing.
She set her coffee down gently and raised her hand to the side of her head. Her earpiece beeped as her index depressed the rubbery button at the side. She said, “Brighten East extension 541,” into the headset. The other end popped almost immediately.
“Tom, what happened to Lefty’s feed?” She asked. Lefty was one of the two distant imaging satellites. Although left and right orientation don’t have as much meaning in space, Lefty produced the images that were most often displayed on the left Monitor at Brighten’s Operation Headquarters. Lefty was a catchy nickname that stuck.
“Yes maim, we’re on it. The signal packets got truncated, so we had to toggle the,” Tom said, but paused for a second. “Oh, there it goes. Good as new. You should see it coming up straight away.”
Amber leaned into her screen waiting for a change in the graph. Just as promised it spiked to life with a green jagged line that indicated the feed was back up. She cooed with delight. She loved it when the fix was easy. She was about to thank him but he spoke first.
“If I say so, Ma’am, this one is a nice shot. You should take a look,”
With the click of a few buttons Amber instructed her computer to display the data as an image. She reached over to her 3D glasses and placed them on her face. She whirred with joy. It was so clear it felt like she could reach out and touch it. In front of her face was an immersive stereoscopic image of an astroid.
“It looks great!” she sang.
“It better, that was a million dollar shot.” Tom responded with a laugh.
“Who contracted it?”
“I don’t know, some research firm out of Denmark. I could look it up if,”
“That’s ok.” She pressed the button on her keypad that zoomed the image in. “Is it in the Kuiper Belt?”
“Yep, this is our first Trans-Neptunian image.”
She enjoyed the image for a moment longer without words. This was why she got into astronomy. She drank in images like this as if they were fine wine. Growing up she had nearly bankrupted her parents with astronomy picture books and amateur equipment. Finally she hit escape and pulled the glasses from her face.
“Tom, you’re doing a great job out there. I’m really proud of what you and the team are accomplishing.”
Tom thanked her before they hung up. She had transitioned from observational astronomy to management after a decade and a half of living out of domed observatories. When POSIS got it’s first research grant years earlier, Amber realized quickly that she would need to increase her management abilities. Living and working as a hermit scientist and running a team of hundreds were two very different skill sets. She had picked up some good advice in those early years. She didn’t remember who told her, but she had learned to end every conversation with a compliment. So far it had been a useful tip.
“Mommy, I can’t find my space gloves,” a young voice said. Amber pulled her earpiece from her ear and turned to see her son Riker standing at the door. She giggled but quickly reeled her laughter in.
“Honey, why are you wearing your underwear on your head?”
“Mom, this is my space helmet can’t you tell?” Riker said defiantly. She could see that his bottom lip was starting to protrude from his face. She pushed her lap top aside quickly. She was running a billion dollar industry, but she had to have priorities. If that bottom lip reached it’s zenith, it would be threat level ten before they had breakfast.
“Of course your a space man, Honey. What I meant to say was,” she cleared her throat and saluted him comically. “Mission control has your launch slated for zero seven hundred hours, Sir. We need to find your non-slip space gloves or they will have to scrub the launch, Sir.”
She was good. Riker’s bottom lip winched inward and latched itself in the stowed position. A grin stretched across his little face as he jumped to attention. He saluted back and then gestured her to be ‘at ease.’
They rushed off to his room to compile a space man suite from socks, underwear, and bedsheets. She took it as a high complement that her son pretend played at being a space ranger. She was so glad, at least for now, that he was not interested in the barbaric ritual of sports.