MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Diane Ainsworth
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEAugust 20, 1998
MARS EXPLORATION PROGRAM MANAGER DONNA SHIRLEY TO RETIRE
Donna Shirley, manager of NASA's Mars Exploration Program at
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and original leader of the team
that built the highly acclaimed Mars Pathfinder rover, will
retire August 21.
An aerospace engineer and author who joined the Laboratory
32 years ago, Shirley is best known for her work on the first
rover to explore the surface of Mars. Her recent book, "Managing
Martians," includes a chronicle of the adventures of the Mars
Pathfinder rover team which built the 10.6-kilogram (23-pound),
six-wheeled robotic explorer named Sojourner, as well as the
story of the Mars Global Surveyor team.
She was named manager of the Mars Exploration Program Office
when it was established in August 1994. The office coordinates
all facets of the planning and implementation of NASA's long-term
program of robotic exploration of Mars.
An aerodynamicist by training, Shirley joined JPL's former
Engineering Mechanics Division in 1966. She served in a variety
of positions in engineering systems analysis for space missions,
worked on new space technologies with terrestrial applications,
was the mission analyst for the Mariner Venus-Mercury mission in
the early 1970s, and played an instrumental role in the 1980s and
1990s in the development of automation, robotics and mobile
Shirley headed a 1979 study of a Saturn orbiter and probe
that eventually led to Cassini, an international mission to the
ringed planet, mounted by NASA with the European Space Agency
and Italian Space Agency, which was launched in October 1997.
In 1990-91, she acted as project engineer for the Cassini flight
project. The spacecraft will reach Saturn in 2004 and deploy the
Huygens probe, which will descend to the surface of Saturn's
largest moon, Titan.
She led work at JPL in the 1980s supporting an early version
of NASA's space station and developed concepts for automated
mobile vehicles to be used on planetary surfaces, with an
emphasis on the Moon and Mars. She also led NASA-wide teams which
developed systems engineering and management processes for the
agency in the early 1990s.
Born in Wynnewood, OK, Shirley received a bachelor's degree
in technical writing in 1963 and a bachelor's degree in aerospace
engineering from the University of Oklahoma in Norman. She
earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering in 1968 from
the University of Southern California. She is currently working
on a doctorate in human and organizational development at the
Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, CA.
Shirley is a recipient of several NASA group achievement
awards, including those for her work on the 1973 Mariner 10
mission to Venus and Mercury and the 1985 Space Station Task
Force, and has been awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership
Medal. In addition to her recent book on her experiences in the
Mars program, she is the author of another book, "Managing
Creativity," which is published on the Internet.
A past president of the Caltech Management Association,
Shirley resides in La Canada-Flintridge and has one adult