Press Release

NASA’s New Horizons Mission Honors Memory of Engineer Lisa Hardaway

By SpaceRef Editor
June 26, 2017
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NASA’s New Horizons mission team honored the life and contributions
of aerospace engineer Lisa Hardaway on Thursday by dedicating the
spectrometer she helped to develop – which brought the first color
close-up images of Pluto to the world – in her memory.

who died in January at age 50, was the program manager at Ball Aerospace
for “Ralph,” one of seven instruments flying aboard the New Horizons
spacecraft. Ralph contains a powerful infrared spectrometer called LEISA
– an acronym for Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array, and pronounced
“Lisa” – that the team has now named after Hardaway.

“Lisa made
incredible contributions to New Horizons and our success in exploring
Pluto, and we wanted to celebrate those contributions in a special way
by dedicating the LEISA spectrometer in her honor,” said Alan Stern, New
Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in
Boulder, Colorado.

After flying more than nine years and three
billion miles, New Horizons sped past Pluto in July 2015, returning
remarkable pictures and measurements that reshaped our views of the
outer solar system. Ralph is the main “eyes” of New Horizons, with
scientists tapping its data to make geological, color and composition
maps of Pluto and its moons. Ralph was so named because of its spot next
to an ultraviolet spectrometer called “Alice” on the spacecraft, a nod
to the famous couple in “The Honeymooners” TV show.

Before LEISA,
the New Horizons team made two similar tributes by dedicating other
payload instruments. In 2008 the team named the Student Dust Counter for
the late Venetia Burney, who was an 11-year-old student when she
suggested the name Pluto for the newly-discovered ninth planet in 1930.
The Alice instrument was dedicated to mission science team member David
Slater, who died in 2011.

“Lisa played a critical role on several
of Ball’s more significant scientific programs from New Horizons,
Hubble and Orion, to the Boeing F/A 18 E/F fighter jet and other
national defense projects,” said Rob Strain, president of Ball Aerospace
in Boulder, Colorado. “She made a positive impact on the careers of
many, and her contributions will continue to give back for years to

Hardaway’s contributions to aerospace extended far beyond
New Horizons. She was the Rocky Mountain Section of the American
Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Engineer of the Year for
2015-2016, and earned the Women in Aerospace Leadership Award in 2015.
As a leader, Hardaway highly regarded the importance of recognizing and
helping to advance the talents of others, especially championing and
mentoring female engineers. She served as a co-instructor on the joint
Ball-Johns Hopkins University Master’s in Systems Engineering program,
was a member of the University of Colorado’s External Advisory Board for
the Department of Aerospace Engineering Services, and regularly gave
her time to support local schools and STEM education.

SpaceRef staff editor.