Michele was part of another team that may have discovered some of the universe's oldest stars. In 2006 a receiving device called the Arcade that Michele helped to launch began picking up strange radio static. At first the Goddard team thought they were making some kind of mistake, but eventually determined the radio static was really there. But what was it? Today, the team thinks the static could be coming from the ghosts of ancient, metal-free stars that had been formed by clouds of helium and hydrogen. If they're right, then these gassy masses exploded like gigantic Hindebergs in the earliest days of the universe.
Looking that far back in time is best done from the high, dry mountaintops in the Atacama Desert. When Michele first started going to Chile, the mountains were pretty desolate but today the area is packed with fellow star-gazers from all over the world. One spot bristles with over 60 antennas. Clusters of road signs direct crews to every experiment. At 8000 feet, the village of San Pedro boasts a thriving astronomic industry with over 30 restaurants and tourist attractions like ancient ruins, hot springs and flamingos in lagoons.
Michele designs and deploys instruments that peer into the universe's ancient past. His father, an optician, crafted lenses and sold glasses and his son carries on in a tradition of developing technology that helps people see the world and the universe. While his uncle encouraged him to go to business school, Michele found that pursuit mind-numbing but there is nothing boring about looking at the beginning of time and getting a glimpse of the evolution of the universe. Michele can't imagine anything more gratifying.