MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Mary Beth Murrill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 9, 1999
ASTEROID NAMED FOR STARDUST COMET MISSION DESIGNER
An asteroid has been named in honor of Jet Propulsion Laboratory
scientist Dr. Chen-Wan L.Yen, developer of the ingenious flight path through
space for NASA's Stardust comet sample return mission.
Asteroid "9249 Yen," formerly known to astronomers as "4606 P-L," was
named in honor of Yen's crucial work in the development and application of
mathematical techniques to optimize the interplanetary trajectories flown by
NASA's robotic exploration spacecraft. The five kilometer- (three mile-)
diameter asteroid resides in the so-called "main belt" of asteroids that
populate a region between Mars and Jupiter.
"Chen-wan is a remarkable natural resource for NASA -- someone truly
gifted in her ability to develop optimal spacecraft trajectories to the
various bodies of the solar system," said Dr. Donald K. Yeomans, comet and
asteroid expert and manager of JPL's Near-Earth Object Program Office. Her
work in optimizing interplanetary trajectories has enabled NASA to send
scientific spacecraft to destinations that might have remained out of reach
with current launch vehicle capabilities, Yeomans said.
Yen has also contributed to the success of interplanetary
trajectories designed for the Cassini mission to Saturn, the Galileo mission
to Jupiter and the Magellan mission to Venus. She is a member of JPL's
Mission and Systems Architecture Section.
Stardust was launched onto a perfect flight path on Feb. 6 from Cape
Canaveral, Florida. The spacecraft is headed for an encounter with Comet
Wild 2 in 2004. Stardust's mission is to collect a sample of material flying
off the comet nucleus, and to collect interstellar particles flowing through
our solar system. Stardust will fly back toward Earth in 2006 to drop off
the samples in a parachute-equipped return capsule.
Yen holds a Ph.D. in high-energy nuclear physics from the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since joining JPL 27 years ago, she
has specialized in optimizing spacecraft trajectories to various
destinations in the solar system. She has designed many advanced
interplanetary missions entailing complex gravity-assist flybys of other
planets. She has suggested using flybys of Mars to send spacecraft on to
study many bodies in the asteroid belt.
A resident of Claremont, Calif., Yen is married and has two sons.
Born in Taiwan, She enjoys playing the piano, hiking, and oil painting.
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology,
Last Updated: November 26, 2003