Meaning of The Tattoos of JWST Scientist Michelle Thaller Explained

Dr. Michelle Lynn Thaller posts an explanation of the meaning behind the tattoo drawn on both her arms. She is the assistant director for Science Communication at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.


About Dr. Michelle Lynn Thaller

Born in 1969 in Wisconsin, United States, Dr. Michelle Lynn Thaller graduated from Waukesha South High School in 1988. She then proceeded to attend Harvard University. Here she majored in astrophysics and worked on precision measurement of binary stars, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1992. Later at Georgia State University Thaller worked on colliding winds in close massive binary systems. She received her Ph.D. in 1998, at the age of 29.

Michelle Thaller
Michelle Thaller (Facebook/Michelle Lynn)

Now she works as the assistant director for Science Communication at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

James Webb Space Telescope is NASA’s most expensive project so far taking a whopping $10 Billion to build. Created to give us a better understanding of the formation of the universe, JWST

’s launch had everyone holding their breath. Since then it has captured incredible never-before-seen images of the universe.

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Explanation About Her Tattoo

Dr. Michelle lends her expertise in providing an understanding of these images. Fans have been growing curious about the meaning behind her tattoos.

In a Facebook group set up by her fans for Michelle Thaller “to get her own show”, she posted an answer in response.

The answer posted on 28th April 2021, received 28K “Like”, “Love” and “C are” responses from her followers and 31K shares. There are more than 9,000 people in the group.


This goes to show how well known she is among amateur science enthusiasts.

Michelle Thaller
Michelle Thaller (Facebook/Michelle Lynn)

Thaller stated that the meaning behind the tattoo is “not a huge secret or anything”.

She chose to open up about it because of the number of questions she’d received about the artwork. And, she wrote, “it’s just kind of silly and sad”.

However, the explosive response to her explanation shows how much people care.

Andrew, Dr. Michelle Thaller’s husband died of cancer in the autumn of 2020. When they started dating in the 1990s, they were both fond of the song ‘The One’ by Elton John, she explained.

It became their song. The tattoo references that with the writing of “Our Songs”, in capital letters.


Her husband was a big J R Tolkien fan so much so that before their marriage he wrote her a love letter in Elvish. The translation of the Elvish written in the Feorean Script was the opening verse of The One.

J R Tolkien invented many Elvish languages, with Quenya and Sindarin being best known among them. They’re complete, manmade languages. Freelance journalist David Neary reveals, that more people speak Elvish than Irish.

She explained that her husband had a tattoo artist transfer his own calligraphy onto Thaller’s body. It goes “up one arm, across my back, and down the other arm in an unbroken script”.

“Sort of like his arms are still around me.”

With her growing popularity as time goes by, her tattoo explanation post receives more likes, shares, and comments.

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