The real reason people are drawn to work at NASA is the romance. It is exciting to contribute on any scale to better understanding of the universe we live in, whether this earth and its climate, in hopes of a better future (FIRE, ISSCP, and AVHRR at the Lab for Atmospheres), or even more romantically, to study other planets (Mars Observer and the TES instrument on the Mars Global Surveyor) or the solar wind (Ulysses URAP, briefly).
Science and art are not as far apart as they look. People sit in seminar rooms watching videos of the Antarctic ozone hole because of the science, but also because, very simply, the videos are beautiful. Science is not pursued without feeling, or art/literature without method.
For example, the mathematics of studying atmospheres on Mars, Titan, or the Earth are very similar, and studying one planetary body gives clues about how to look at others.
In literature, a story about one person’s life and experience is part of the story of every person’s life and experience. Every parent and child, every husband and wife, every immigrant, every human, is unique, but also the same as every other parent and child, husband and wife, and so on; the mathematics of the human heart is the same, whatever the culture, time or place.