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Deep Impact
Deep Impact
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Deep Impact Mission Science Technology Mission Results Gallery Education Discovery Zone Your Community Press Mission - Biographies

Steve Wissler
Mission Operations Systems Engineer and
Encounter Flight Director for the Flyby Spacecraft

Steve Wissler

What's the coolest thing about the Deep Impact mission?
Smashing a spacecraft into the Comet. Explosions are way cool.

Why do you like working at Jet Propulsion Laboratory?
I've always been interested in space and space exploration. I like the idea of being able to send robots out and "touch" what we are learning about. I like looking through telescopes to find out about space objects, but it is not as satisfying as being able to examine them close up.

How did you end up in Aerospace?
I graduated from UCLA with a degree in Astronomy and was interested in doing engineering work for NASA. Since I grew up in the Los Angeles area, JPL was a natural choice.

What do you do in your spare time?
Play video games with my kids, build things out of wood, and play with my dog Riley.

Who in your life inspired you?
My father. He was a good husband and Dad. He took us camping, coached little league, and got me interested in building models and woodworking. I think I was very lucky to have such a good father to look up to.

What is one yet-to-be achieved life goal?
I would like to learn how to fly, and own a World War II vintage airplane. My favorite would be a British Spitfire.

Were you technically/scientifically oriented as a young person?
I always did well in math and science in school. I took an Astronomy class as a senior in high school and was hooked.

What is your title on the Deep Impact project and what do you do?
I am the Mission Operations Systems Engineer and the Encounter Flight Director for the Flyby Spacecraft. As the MOS Engineer I was responsible for the Design and Implementation of the Ground Data System and Mission Operations Systems. As the Encounter Flight Director I am responsible for pulling together the encounter sequence design, implementation and test as well as the encounter operations plans and procedures.

What was your favorite book as a young person?
It was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. My 4th grade teacher gave me the book to inspire me to read more. I enjoyed the story so much, that reading became one of my favorite things to do. I mostly read adventure and mystery books. My favorite authors are Clive Cussler, Dan Brown, Tom Clancy and Nelson DeMille.

What did you want to become when you were young?
I wanted to be either a Marine Biologist or an Astronomer.

If you weren't working in space exploration now, what might you be doing?
I would probably be scuba diving as a marine biologist or flying a plane.

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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