- Press Release
- Feb 5, 2023
Eilene Theilig Named New Manager For Galileo Mission
MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Guy Webster, (818) 354-6278
NASA’s Galileo spacecraft mission at Jupiter has a new
project manager, Dr. Eilene Theilig of NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Theilig, 47, has worked on JPL’s Galileo team for 11
years and has served as deputy project manager since April
2000. She has supervised teams of engineers responsible for
Galileo’s health and for commands sent to the long-lived
spacecraft, which was launched in 1989. Theilig received two
NASA Exceptional Achievement Awards for that team leadership.
Effective Jan. 29, Theilig assumes the project manager
post that had been held since 1998 by Jim Erickson, who has
become JPL’s mission manager for rovers that NASA plans to
send to Mars in 2003.
The Galileo spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter since
1995, adding to knowledge about that giant planet and the
surrounding Jovian system. It will fly close to Callisto, the
outermost of Jupiter’s four large moons, on May 25. Two flybys
of the intensely volcanic moon Io are planned for the second
half of 2001.
“I’ve always been mindful of the long line of people
whose efforts have made Galileo a success. The current team
continues the tradition of overcoming technical challenges to
achieve first-class science,” said Theilig. “We still have
exciting new science ahead of us.”
A native of Houston, Theilig chose geology as her major
at the University of Texas, Austin, partly because of the
appeal of outdoor fieldwork. Two of her professors were
involved in NASA projects studying the Moon and Mars, so
before graduating in 1976, she was already participating in
research about channels on Mars. That summer, through a NASA-
sponsored internship, she was at JPL assisting the Viking
imaging team when the Viking 1 lander set down on Mars. The
thrill hooked her.
She directed herself toward a career in solar system
exploration by earning a Ph.D. in geology with a concentration
in planetary studies from Arizona State University, Tempe, in
1986. While there, she published research about the geological
history of Mars. She returned to JPL in 1987 as a National
Research Council associate, investigating lava flows on Earth
to aid interpretation of the NASA Magellan spacecraft’s radar
imaging of lava flows on Venus.
Seeking more active participation in mission operations,
Theilig joined the Galileo project seven months before the
spacecraft was launched on Oct. 18, 1989, aboard the Space
Shuttle Atlantis. Since that time, she has been involved in
the mission’s scientifically rich encounters from early
planning stages through sending commands to the spacecraft.
Theilig lives in Monrovia, Calif. She is a member of Phi
Beta Kappa, an avid hiker and an active member of her church.
Through mission extensions, Galileo has already served
more than twice as long in orbit as its original two-year
mission, and it has withstood more than three times the amount
of radiation, from time spent in Jupiter’s radiation belts, as
it was designed for. More information is available online at
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology
in Pasadena, manages Galileo for NASA’s Office of Space
Science, Washington, D.C.