Project ManagerJet Propulsion Laboratory
"I've always been a builder. I grew up working with every building set you could buy -- Lincoln logs and whatever -- and I guess that just kind of continued. Right out of college, I was... more
"I've always been a builder. I grew up working with every building set you could buy -- Lincoln logs and whatever -- and I guess that just kind of continued.
Right out of college, I was building videogames for 4 or 5 years, very early video games. And I got very interested in creative electronics. And somehow I got an offer to come work here at JPL and I thought, well that's pretty spectacular!
Working among many people and cultures and companies to try and actually coordinate an effort to pull a complicated design together, build it, test it, work the problems, get it all integrated and working and doing amazing science -- that's just quite a rush.
For me it all really comes down to the experience of building something great with a lot of great people. There's always problems, but when you're all supporting each other and have a great team environment, you can really make a lot of magic happen."
- GRACE, Juno, Cassini, Galileo, Magellan, Magellan Radar, Mars Observer, Mars Pathfinder
- NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals, 2012 and 1999 for Juno and Cassini
- NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 2003 for GRACE
BS in electronics engineering, California Polytechnic Universityless
Deputy Project Manager, Flight System ManagerJet Propulsion Laboratoy
"I actually didn't plan on being an engineer. I wanted to be a marine biologist. I got a job at the Department of Water and Power in the chemistry lab. I was looking at what the engineers ... more
"I actually didn't plan on being an engineer. I wanted to be a marine biologist. I got a job at the Department of Water and Power in the chemistry lab. I was looking at what the engineers were doing and they seemed to be having an awful good time, as opposed to me, who was prepping samples. And finally I said, 'I'll give it a try.' I took this class called Introduction to Algorithm Design for writing software, and everything just kind of clicked. And then engineering was what I knew I wanted to do.
(Former JPL Director Theodore) von Karman said, 'Scientists discover the world that exists. Engineers create the world that never was.' And I think that's the most rewarding thing for me -- creating those tools so scientists can see what they desire to see.
The nice thing about Earth missions is one, it's about our home planet – figuring out what's going on, what we can do differently, where our weaknesses are. And two, the return is fairly quick. Go to Mars and it's 9 to 12 months before you even land. Cassini was 7 years (before it arrived).
My hopes are that we are at least as successful as we were with the original GRACE mission, and that we meet the desires of the scientists and NASA as a whole. I mean, that's what we're here for."
- GRACE, Cassini, Europa Orbiter, LISA, MER (Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars), Phoenix
- NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 2003 for GRACE
- NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, 2009 for Phoenix
MS and BS, both in Electrical Engineering, California State University Northridgeless
Project ScientistJet Propulsion Laboratory
"I am responsible for the scientific integrity and overall scientific success of the project. My job is to ensure that the mission as designed and implemented meets the science goals." ... more
"I am responsible for the scientific integrity and overall scientific success of the project. My job is to ensure that the mission as designed and implemented meets the science goals."
- PH.D Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, June 1990, Geodetic Measurement of Deformation in the Offshore of Southern California
- M.S., Geology, California Institute of Technology, June 1989
- B.A. Geology, University of California, Santa Barbara, March 1984. Exchange student, University of Bergen, Norway, 1982-1983. Summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Exxon outstanding senior.
- Planetary Geology Undergraduate Research Program, NASA, participant, Spring 1984, at the Center for Radar Astronomy Stanford University, Stanford, California
Deputy Project ScientistJet Propulsion Laboratory
“I closely interact with the flight project and system engineers, and the large science user and application community to ensure that the data products we generate meet their needs, are of th... more
“I closely interact with the flight project and system engineers, and the large science user and application community to ensure that the data products we generate meet their needs, are of the highest quality and accuracy, and get delivered in a timely manner. Time-variable gravity measurements have an amazing range of applications: they tell us about sea level and ocean current variations, droughts and floods over land, glacier mass changes, and even the solid Earth’s changes from large earthquakes. As an oceanographer myself, it never seizes to amaze me that we can map pressure differences as small as 10 millimeters at the bottom of the oceans from space. With GRACE-FO, we’ll continue to unravel processes in Earth’s water and energy cycle, and provide crucial data for water resources management."
- Ph.D., Oceanography, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology / University of Hamburg / Intl. Max Planck Research School on Earth System Modelling (2004-2007)
- Diploma (M.Sc.), Geophysics, University of Kiel (1998-2004)
Project System EngineerJet Propulsion Lab
"I come from a family of engineers, and so I went into engineering basically because I liked what my father did. The nice thing about working on NASA missions is you're allowed to... more
"I come from a family of engineers, and so I went into engineering basically because I liked what my father did.
The nice thing about working on NASA missions is you're allowed to tell everybody about the science and the spacecraft and everything. And it's part of our initiative to inspire others about space and technology. I just love doing that.
When you get a measurement that is at a higher (resolution) level than what you've seen in the past, you never know what you're going to see. And that's the fun of these missions."
GRAIL, WMAP, GALAXY, Shuttle missions
BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Delaware
Laser Interferometer ManagerJet Propulsion Laboratory
"I'm a physicist by training but really I build instruments. (What I find most satisfying is) just having to make something that's really robust -- that you've done all the work... more
"I'm a physicist by training but really I build instruments.
(What I find most satisfying is) just having to make something that's really robust -- that you've done all the work right, you've done all the testing right and it's going to work. It's really a lot of fun.
JPL is a very attractive place for me because unlike in academia, where you get kind of rigid in what you get to do, I get to build really cool instruments that I'm good at to support science that I don't know so much about but I'm interested in."
GRAIL, PARKS, LISA
PhD in physics, University of Washingtonless
Flight System Systems EngineerJet Propulsion Laboratory
"As a young kid, I was captivated by the Apollo moon landings. I started to draw plans of rockets and read anything I could find on spaceflight. I loved taking things apart and marveled at the... more
"As a young kid, I was captivated by the Apollo moon landings. I started to draw plans of rockets and read anything I could find on spaceflight. I loved taking things apart and marveled at their design. And that's when I knew I wanted to become an engineer.
Working as the Flight System Systems Engineer allows me to interact with different people, companies and cultures, and provides me with the opportunity to learn more about a wide variety of science and engineering disciplines.
One aspect of the GRACE Follow-On mission that fascinates me is its ability to elegantly measure and uncover what is not visible to the naked eye. Measuring gravity and its changes over time and space is an important contribution to understanding our planet Earth."
- Spirit & Opportunity - Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), Phoenix Mars Lander, Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity Rover, GRACE Follow-On
- NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2009 for Phoenix Mars Lander
- PhD in Aeronautics & Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- MS in Electrical Engineering from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
When a mission exceeds expectations, it’s only reasonable to continue pushing the boundaries of spaceborne engineering and science. GRACE Follow-On carries technological upgrades that should give scientists an even clearer picture of climate change.
For the first time, scientists have detected sea level "fingerprints" – patterns of variation in global sea level due to changes in water and ice on land – in GRACE data.
Airbus tests the dispenser structure that will hold the twin GRACE-FO satellites during their launch.
"With GRACE, we effectively created a new field of spaceborne remote sensing: tracking the movement of water via its mass," said Michael Watkins, the original GRACE project scientist and now director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
Iridium announces that it has purchased an additional Falcon 9 launch from SpaceX that the satellite services company will share with the GRACE-FO mission.