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Science Mission Directorate
Oral History Project

In 2016, Jim Green, then Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters, provided funding to the JSC History Office to conduct a series of interviews with some of the nation’s top scientists who received NASA funding as well as those who helped to shape the Agency’s role in space exploration. Within these transcripts, the interviewees share their memories, anecdotes, and the details of NASA's scientific exploration of our solar system and the universe, from the Voyager I space probe to the Cassini spacecraft and Mars exploration programs.

The Science Mission Directorate (SMD), under which the Planetary Science Division sits, sponsors scientific research about the Earth, the Sun, the solar system, and the universe. The directorate works with America’s scientific community, supporting and sponsoring research in universities across the country. SMD has provided the funds to develop the satellites, probes, and rovers that have been sent to Mars and Jupiter. NASA’s SMD is also working to find life in the universe outside of Earth.

These interviews were conducted by the JSC History Office, 2017-2018.

Beebe, Reta

Astronomer, Professor Emerita, New Mexico State University
Principal Investigator, NASA Planetary Data System (PDS) Atmospheres Node
Chair, Committee on Lunar and Planetary Exploration
Member, Space Studies Board, National Research Council
Researcher, Voyager, Galileo, and Cassini spacecraft mission data and Hubble Space Telescope, Jupiter/Saturn Observing Program

Brown, Linda

--Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Astronomer, ATMOS (Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectroscopy)
Principal Scientist

Diaz, Alphonso V.

--Langley Research Center
Technical Management, Viking Project, GAS Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer.
--NASA Headquarters
Program Manager, International Solar-Polar Mission (now Ulysses Mission)
Manager, Galileo Program
Manager, Planetary Advanced Programs
Deputy Director, Solar System Exploration Division
Director, Strategic Plan and Programs for Space Station
Assistant Associate Administrator,
Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA),
Deputy Associate Administrator, Space Science
Chief Engineer
-- Goddard Space Flight Center
Deputy Director
Center Director

-- NASA Headquarters
Associate Administrator of Science

Green, James L.

-- NASA Headquarters
Director of the Planetary Science Division
NASA Chief Scientist

Hubbard, G. Scott

--Ames Research Center
Division Staff Scientist, Space Exploration Projects Office
Chief, Space Instrumentation and Studies Branch
Chief, Systems Engineering and Analysis Office, Centrifuge Facility Project Office (Space Station life science facility)
Deputy Chief, Space Projects Division
Chief (acting), Space Projects Division
Ames Mars Pathfinder Project Manager
Associate Director, Space Directorate
Deputy Director, Space Directorate
Founding Director, NASA Astrobiology Institute
Manager, Lunar Prospector Mission
Associate Director, Astrobiology and Space Programs
First Mars Program Director
--Ames Research Center
Deputy Director for Research
Director, NASA Ames Research Center
Jennings, Donald E..

--Goddard Space Flight Center
Main area of research: planetary infrared astronomy. Developed instruments to observe infrared spectra of the Sun, planets, Earth, stars.
Co-Investigator and Instrument Scientist on Cassini/CIRS.
Co-Investigator on New Horizons
Principal Investigator on the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA)
Other Flight Missions: Voyager, STS-39, STS-62, EO-1, Lewis, OSIRIS-REx, Herschel/SPIRE, Canadian ACE, RRM3/CTI

Kostiuk, Theodor
--Goddard Space Flight Center
Space Scientist
Senior Research Scientist, Planetary Systems Laboratory, Solar System Exploration Division
Principal Investigator, instrument development and planetary investigation research
NASA Sensor Working Group
Chief Scientist, Exploration, Science Directorate
--NASA Headquarters
Discipline Scientist/Manager, Planetary Instrument Definition and Development Program
NASA Solar System Exploration Subcommittee
NASA Keck-IRTF, Management Operations Working Group.
Mahaffy, Paul R.
--Goddard Space Flight Center
Director, Solar System Exploration Division
--Main research interests: Planetary science, especially chemical and isotopic composition of planetary atmospheres and comets; Advanced instrument development for organic and light isotope analysis in planetary targets; Analog studies for Martian and cometary materials including both laboratory and field work.
Mather, John C.

--Goddard Space Flight Center
Senior Astrophysicist
, Observational Cosmology Laboratory,
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 2006

McFadden, Lucy A.
--Goddard Space Flight Center
Director of Education and Public Outreach, Deep Impact and Dawn missions
Lead, Higher Education and University Programs
Member of the science team for the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission
Member of an expedition of the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET)
Member of the fourth recovery expedition for Almahata Sitta meteorite in northern Sudan
Co-Investigator, Deep Impact and its extended mission EPOXI (Deep Impact Extended Investigation)
Co-Investigator, Dawn mission to the asteroid 4 Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres
Vice-Chair of the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences
In current role, supports development of future missions exploring our Solar System
Mendell, Wendell W.
--Johnson Space Center
Planetary Scientist
Assistant Director for Exploration, Astromaterials Research & Exploration Science Directorate
Chief, Office for Lunar & Planetary Exploration for Constellation
Lunar science consultant to the Constellation Program Manager, Constellation Program
Morrison, David D.
--Ames Research Center
Chief of the Space Science Division
Director of Space
Senior Scientist
Chief Scientist, Ames Planetary Defense research team
Chair, NASA Planetary Astronomy Committee
Chair, NASA Spaceguard Working Group
Chair, NASA Astrobiology Roadmap Working Group
Founding member of the multidisciplinary science of astrobiology
Drafted Original Charter and Coorperative Agreement notice for the competitive selection of the Institute teams for the NASA Astrobiology Institute
Leading role in defining the asteroid impact hazard, including chairing the congressionally mandated NASA Spaceguard Committee in 1991-92
Founding Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute
Senior Scientist at SSERVI, NLSI successor Institute
-- NASA Headquarters
Galileo Program Scientist and Interdisciplinary Scientist

Squyres, Steven W.

--Ames Research Center
Research Scientist
--Major areas of research:
Robotic exploration of planetary surfaces, History of water on Mars,
Geophysics and tectonics of icy satellites, Tectonics of Venus, Planetary
gamma-ray and x-ray spectroscopy
--Abbreviated list of NASA Research
Co-Investigator, Comet Penetrator/Lander, Comet Rendezvous/Asteroid Flyby Mission
Guest Investigator, Magellan Mission
Member, Imaging Science Team, Cassini Mission
Co-Investigator, Mars '96 Mission
Co-Investigator, MARDI, Mars Polar Lander mission
Gamma-Ray Spectrometer Flight Investigation Team, Mars Odyssey Mission
Principal Investigator, APEX, Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander mission
Principal Investigator, Athena Rover Investigation, Mars Exploration Rover mission
Co-Investigator, HiRISE, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission
Co-Investigator, APXS, Mars Science Laboratory mission
Co-Investigator, SAM analytical instrument suite, Mars Science Laboratory mission
Crewmember, NEEMO 15 and 16, Aquarius habitat, Florida Keys
Group chair, NASA Cassini Saturn Orbiter Review Panel
Chairman, MESUR Mission Science Definition Team
US Co-chair, US/Russian Mars Environment Implementation Team
Chairman, NASA Mars Science Working Group
Chairman, NASA Campaign Strategy Working Group for Prebiotic Chemistry in the Outer Solar System
Chairman, NASA Solar System Exploration Subcommittee
Chairman, NASA Space Science Advisory Committee
Chairman, National Research Council Planetary Decadal Survey
Chairman, NASA Advisory Council

Vondrak, Richard R.

-- Goddard Space Flight Center
Laboratory Chief, Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics
Deputy Director, Lunar Exploration, Solar System Exploration Division
Director, Lunar Exploration, Solar System Exploration Division
Consulting Scientist, Lunar Exploration, Solar System Exploration Division Emeritus Scientist, Lunar Exploration, Solar System Exploration Division
--NASA Headquarters
Director, Robotic Lunar Exploration Program

Weiler, Edward J.

--NASA Headquarters
Staff Scientist
Chief, Ultraviolet/Visible and Gravitational Astrophysics Division
Chief Scientist, Hubble Space Telescope
Director, Astronomical Search for Origins Program
Associate Administrator, Space Science Enterprise
--Goddard Spaceflight Center
Center Director
--NASA Headquarters
Associate Administrator, Science Mission Directorate

More transcripts are available from the alphabetical list above or from the complete list of participants.

Please note: Links on the following pages are active once the Oral History transcript is archived in the JSC History Collection.

To view the newest additions to the JSC History Collection, visit the "What's New" announcement.

Transcript lists were last updated: Jan. 5, 2021

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