EPISODE 1: TRACY DRAIN

Tracy Drain photo

 

Tracy's mother was a relatively low-income earner in Louisville, Kentucky, who shared her love of learning and her curiosity about space.  With her ongoing support and encouragement, Tracy became the first person in her immediate family to receive a college degree. She earned both a Bachelor of Science and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

 

Hired directly from school by JPL, today Tracy is a key part of development and mission operations at JPL.

 

Her work has provided valuable contributions to Juno, the mission that recently arrived at Jupiter, to Kepler, the mission looking for other Earth-like planets in our galaxy, and to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

WATCH HER STORY

 

Watch Tracy's story of her trajectory to JPL, the missions she has worked on, and her advice to a young girl, anywhere in the world, who yearns to dare mighty things.

KEY PROJECTS

 

Tracy has played an integral part in the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been studying the Red Planet's atmosphere and terrain from orbit since 2006, the Kepler Mission, which is searching for Earth-like planets outside our solar system, and the Juno Mission to Jupiter. Find out more about them.

 

BIO

Tracy Drain is a systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and is currently the deputy chief engineer for the Juno Mission to Jupiter.

 

Tracy graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and earned a master’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, both in the field of mechanical engineering. As an undergrad at the University of Kansas, she completed four rotations as an engineering co-op student at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Upon graduating from Georgia Tech in 2000, she officially joined the NASA family as a systems engineer at JPL.

 

In her 16 years at the lab, Tracy has been involved in the development, testing and operation of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the Kepler mission and the Juno mission, which entered into orbit around Jupiter in July 2016. Her roles on these projects have included serving as the transition phase lead and lead systems engineer for MRO, the mission readiness lead for Kepler, and now the deputy chief engineer in operations for Juno.

 

While on the Juno mission, Tracy has also served as the technical group supervisor for the Flight System Systems Engineering group. While in that role, she provided guidance and oversight to other systems engineers supporting a variety of JPL missions.

 

Tracy is passionate about space exploration and STEM fields in general and loves taking every opportunity to share her enthusiasm with students, their parents and teachers.

 

 

 

PHOTOS

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ALL EPISODES AND PREVIEWS

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MiMi Aung

MIMI AUNG, MARS HELICOPTER PROJECT MANAGER

Raised in Burma with few amenities, MiMi came to the U.Ss by herself at 16 for access to education. Today she is leading the project to develop a Mars helicopter technology demonstration, an entirely new type of space flight.

Melanie Chau-Budiman

MELANIE CHAU-BUDIMAN, IT MANAGER

Melanie escaped Vietnam as a child, with only her two brothers, on a boat with 2,600 refugees. Rescued by the Red Cross, she was sponsored by an American family. Today she is an IT Manager at JPL.

Jackie Lyra

JACKIE LYRA, SENIOR ENGINEER

Born in Brazil, Jackie is a senior engineer specializing in temperature control and systems engineering. She has played a key role in most of JPL's critical missions.

Sue Finley

SUE FINLEY, TEST ENGINEER

One of the "human computers" in 1958, Sue has been there from the virtual beginnings of the space program. Her experience makes her an invaluable test engineer.

Taguhi Arakelian

TAGUHI ARAKELIAN, SYSTEMS ENGINEER

She came to the U.S. from Armenia in the 10th grade, speaking no English. Today Taguhi helps to ensure that we do not transfer microbes to other planets and other systems, and vice versa.

Heidi Herman

HEIDI HERMAN, BUSINESS ADMIN MANAGER

Heidi was one of the "boat people" after the fall of Saigon and lived for a year in a refugee camp in Indonesia. Now she provides financial and administrative support for all of JPL’s missions.

Ana Maria Guerrero

ANA MARIA GUERRERO, DEEP SPACE NETWORK MANAGER

The daughter of immigrants from Mexico, today Ana manages digital communications to and from missions into deep space.

Khanara Ellers

KHANARA ELLERS, SYSTEMS ENGINEER

As a child in Cambodia, she watched the moon landing and decided to work in the space program. She endured the tragedies of having her father and most of her male relatives killed by the Khmer Rouge.

Lisa Haber

LISA HABER, ASST. MANAGER, NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAMS OFFICE

During her childhood Lisa's mother encouraged her to get out of Las Vegas and do more. Today Lisa provides critical support to JPL's missions.

Jordana Blacksberg

JORDANA BLACKSBERG, PLANETARY INSTRUMENTS SCIENTIST

Jordana is leading JPL in the development of next-generation instruments for the study of other planets, asteroids and comets.

Rosaly Lopes

ROSALY LOPES, PLANETARY GEOLOGIST

Born in Brazil and educated in London, Rosaly is in the Guinness World Book of Records for having discovered 71 active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io.

Polly Estabrook

POLLY ESTABROOK, TELECOM ENGINEER

With a doctorate from Stanford, Polly is an expert in deep space and satellite communication systems. She has led development teams for the telecom systems for the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

Tracy Drain

TRACY DRAIN, FLIGHT SYSTEMS ENGINEER

Her mother, a relatively low income-earner in Louisville, Kentucky, shared her love of learning and space. Today Tracy is exploring Jupiter.

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