MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Mary Beth Murrill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEApril 9, 1999
ASTEROID NAMED FOR STARDUST COMET MISSION DESIGNER
An asteroid has been named in honor of Jet Propulsion
Laboratory scientist Dr. Chen-Wan L.Yen, developer of the
ingenious flight path through space for NASA's Stardust comet
sample return mission.
Asteroid "9249 Yen," formerly known to astronomers as "4606
P-L," was named in honor of Yen's crucial work in the development
and application of mathematical techniques to optimize the
interplanetary trajectories flown by NASA's robotic exploration
spacecraft. The five kilometer- (three mile-) diameter asteroid
resides in the so-called "main belt" of asteroids that populate a
region between Mars and Jupiter.
"Chen-wan is a remarkable natural resource for NASA --
someone truly gifted in her ability to develop optimal spacecraft
trajectories to the various bodies of the solar system," said Dr.
Donald K. Yeomans, comet and asteroid expert and manager of JPL's
Near-Earth Object Program Office. Her work in optimizing
interplanetary trajectories has enabled NASA to send scientific
spacecraft to destinations that might have remained out of reach
with current launch vehicle capabilities, Yeomans said.
Yen has also contributed to the success of interplanetary
trajectories designed for the Cassini mission to Saturn, the
Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Magellan mission to Venus.
She is a member of JPL's Mission and Systems Architecture
Stardust was launched onto a perfect flight path on Feb. 6
from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The spacecraft is headed for an
encounter with Comet Wild 2 in 2004. Stardust's mission is to
collect a sample of material flying off the comet nucleus, and to
collect interstellar particles flowing through our solar system.
Stardust will fly back toward Earth in 2006 to drop off the
samples in a parachute-equipped return capsule.
Yen holds a Ph.D. in high-energy nuclear physics from
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since joining JPL 27
years ago, she has specialized in optimizing spacecraft
trajectories to various destinations in the solar system. She
has designed many advanced interplanetary missions entailing
complex gravity-assist flybys of other planets. She has
suggested using flybys of Mars to send spacecraft on to study
many bodies in the asteroid belt.
A resident of Claremont, Calif., Yen is married and has two
sons. Born in Taiwan, She enjoys playing the piano, hiking, and
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology,