Employee Profile - Dr. Lisa Hardaway

Lisa Hardaway

Lisa Hardaway has a lot of patience. She will wait eight years to see the results from her work as the chief systems engineer for the Ralph instrument aboard the New Horizons mission to Pluto. She has also waited longer than expected to see the results of her work on the Wide Field Camera-3 for the Hubble Space Telescope.

New Horizons’ long trip to Pluto and launch delays for the Hubble servicing mission haven’t dampened Hardaway’s passion for her work. “Luckily, I’ve been so busy that I don’t have a lot of time to think about how much time passes from the time our work is done until we see the results,” Hardaway said.

She loves to deliver hardware. “We can convert science requirements into hardware that will capture the data science teams need. It is very rewarding to be able to deliver this kind of value to customers.”

Hardaway worked on three instruments for the final Hubble Servicing Mission, including repair missions for the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and Advanced Camera for Surveys, but the Wide Field Camera 3 has been her focus.

Hardaway had tremendous responsibility on the program including responsibility for instrument design, requirements definition and maintenance, verification planning, and mission operations to name a few.

She worked on console at Johnson Space Center during the servicing mission, providing re-planning support throughout the mission.

“When I was in graduate school I was able to see the Hubble Space Telescope before it was launched. At that time, I never dreamed I would be able to work on a servicing mission for it,” she said.

Another highlight of her career has been her work on the challenging Ralph instrument. Ralph is a visible and infrared imager/spectrometer that will provide color, composition and thermal maps of Pluto and its moon Charon.

“Ralph was a challenging instrument. It has a long journey to Pluto aboard a small spacecraft that travels very fast,” she said. “We had size and mass limitations that required some technology development. The instrument also has to be very reliable. Other than the aperture door, there are no moving parts on the instrument.”

Hardaway is excited about data that Ralph will return. “Of all of the seven instruments onboard New Horizons, Ralph will take the closest approach images of Pluto. It is a fantastic instrument.”

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