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Inspiring People

Inspiring Engineer: Terry Himes

    Terry Himes


Terry Himes in front of the JPL Mission Operations Center.

I grew up in a small town near Lansing, Michigan. In 9th grade, inspired by NASA's Gemini and Apollo programs, two friends and I launched our first rockets with live mice. Our goal was to run experiments on the mice to see how rapid acceleration affected their behavior and gain extra credit in Physics and Biology. It worked, and the local news caught on and ran a story on our space shots and launch facility. Of course, we never broke 1500 feet. But it was fun and exciting. And from then on, I was hooked on space.


Example of one of the many organic particles collected and recovered by the Stardust mission. News article from the June 2, 1964 edition of the Lansing, Michigan State Journal newspaper.
After a Tour of Duty in Vietnam/Cambodia (1969/1970), I finished college at Michigan State University and switched my major from Aeronautical Engineering to Computer Science. In 2001, I started at JPL working Multi-Missions operations and Ground Data Systems. I love developing software, which then becomes an integral part of how we here on Earth talk to spacecrafts so many billions of miles away. A good 80% of the software developed for NASA missions is in the Ground Data System. To me, it's the best place to be but I'd also like to be rock star (doesn't everyone). As a hobby, I am a drummer and at one time I played in some very good local bands during high school and college.

The most interesting part of my job is the fact you always have to learn. There is almost never a time when you don't have to learn something new and find an answer to a question like, 'Was there ever water on Mars?' Boredom is not an option in space exploration.


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