What is it like being an engineer helping scientists make discoveries about our Solar System? Often challenging, sometimes hair-raising, occasionally mind-blowing… and always deeply rewarding. Tracy Drain describes her path to becoming a Systems Engineer working on deep space missions for NASA, and offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of two of the missions she has participated in during her career. Come and hear some adventures from Jun (in orbit around Jupiter since 2016) and Europa Clipper (working towards a 2024 launch, heading back to the Jovian neighborhood – but this time to study an ice-shelled, water-rich moon).
Tracy Drain is a Systems Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her interest in space grew from an early love of science fiction – she soaked up Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and various sci-fi books by the armload. She earned degrees in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kentucky and Georgia Tech and landed a full-time position at JPL in 2000. In her 20 years at the lab, she has participated in the development and/or operation of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (a science/relay orbiter at Mars), the Kepler mission (an exoplanet hunter), the Juno mission to Jupiter and the Psyche mission (to study an asteroid). She is currently the Lead Flight Systems Engineer for the Europa Clipper mission, which is slated to launch in 2024 to explore one of the most scientifically exciting icy moons of Jupiter. Tracy relishes playing a role in helping scientists expand our understanding of the universe and loves sharing her passion for space with people of all ages.
This event is produced in partnership with AbSciCon 2022.