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JPL Scientist, Claudia Alexander Passes at age 56


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Claudia Alexander, was the NASA scientist who oversaw the dramatic conclusion of the space agency's long-lived Galileo mission to Jupiter and managed the United States' role in the international comet-chasing Rosetta project, which recently landed a spacecraft on a comet moving through space at more 84,000 mph, died July 11 at Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia. She was 56. (see LA Times story).  Claudia also authored several children's books.

"She wasn't famous, although she spoke often to the public and was eloquent and impassioned whenever she did so. She was highly respected by basically everyone who met her, as far as I can tell. She was an extraordinary talent, a committed scientist and but most of all this warm and generous and intellectually curious and energetic person who greeted everyone with a big smile and always had time to talk about whatever you were up to, even as she was busy doing super important things like, oh, running the Galileo mission at its spectacular finale, or being in charge of the U.S. contribution to the Rosetta mission (yes the one that just landed on the comet, the orbiter part anyway). And apparently she was in the first 20 African Americans to graduate with a PhD in an astronomy/physics related field too.

It is a shattering loss. I'm not posting this to seek personal sympathy but instead to remind you all -- especially this week as a spacecraft flies past Pluto -- that exploration is a human endeavor and it lives and dies by the people who put their life's work into it, people who largely remain invisible but who leave an indelible mark on our understanding of the universe regardless. And people whose stories will be lost if we don't tell them." -Janet A. Vertesi, Asst. Prof. of Sociology at Princeton University. (More)

Question: What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the same career path as you? 

Claudia Alexander: When deciding on your career you should be aware of the balance of work, personal satisfaction and financial rewards. In the early days of my career I would compare notes with an attorney friend of mine, and I found that each of us were working the same long hours, but she was making about three times as much money as me! Loving your work can sometimes be as important as how much money you make. As a woman it is really tough to make the balance of family time and science work successfully. You have to decide if you want to spend most of your time working at the expense of family time! Having the right partner is an important part of deciding on that balance. Read the full Q&A 

More on Claudia Alexander, from the Black Community
claudia-alexander.jpg

 

Edited by Troy
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  • 2 weeks later...

The advise that i would give to someone as a same career as me, hmm, oh, it's a long journey, and your going to have to work for it, but it's worth it and the long run, because when you look back, you would look at your dedication and success, and feel like you spent your time well and time well spended.

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