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Leticia Montanez
Testbed Manager, Deep Impact

Leticia Montanez

What's the coolest thing about Deep Impact?
Working on two Spacecrafts at the same time and having one chase a comet is really cool. It is like a cat and mouse game. Not only do we have to catch up to the comet but it also has to hit it sunny side up, which makes it more of a challenge. I have worked on other Missions such as Galileo and Cassini which both have released probes on different planets. But to have something impact a comet that has traveled throughout the universe - I can't wait to see what it carries.

Why do you like working at Jet Propulsion Laboratory?
I like working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory because the work here is very unique. Every day is a different adventure. How often does one get to visit a different planet?

What is your job on the Deep Impact project?
I am the Testbed Manager on Deep Impact. Part of my job is to maintain and run the Spacecraft simulation that is located at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado and to run a second copy of it at JPL. I also get the opportunity to pretend that I am actually flying the spacecraft by running rehearsals on the simulation of what is to be executed on the actual spacecraft. Not only do I dry run the actual command files, but it is also my job to find potential problems prior to doing it on the Spacecraft.

How did you end up in Aerospace?
I have always loved art, science and math from a very young age. In Aerospace, I am able to use all three. The art really plays a big part, because you have to be able to visualize what you are trying to simulate in a test environment.

What do you do in your spare time?
I currently play on Women's Ice Hockey Travel Team. I travel throughout the world and play hockey. We just recently came back from Europe, where we played against European National Teams.

Who in your life inspired you?
My junior and high school math teachers inspired me by having hope and making sure that I would not to give up on pursuing my goal of getting a job at JPL as an Engineer.

What is one yet-to-be achieved life goal?
I would like to work on a manned mission. I would like to see a person land and walk on either the Moon or a different planet.

Were you science-oriented as a young person?
I have always taken a science class through out my life, even if it was optional.

What was your favorite book as a young person?
My favorite book was Catcher in the Rye because it is basically about life and how one should play by the rules or no good will come out of it.

What did you want to become when you were young?
I really just wanted to be come an artist. I had the opportunity to attend Otis Art Institute on scholarship. The reason I did not pursue this was because my parents believed that I would not make a good living at being an artist.

If you weren't working in space exploration now, what might you be doing?
I would most likely be a math, science or art teacher in a junior or high school.

Biographical details contained on these pages were correct during the Deep Impact mission which ended in 2006. Several scientists from Deep Impact are now working on related missions such as EPOXI and Stardust-NExT.

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