Dr. Marc Rayman is the Mission Director and Chief Engineer of the Dawn project, a mission to explore the two largest uncharted worlds in the inner solar system launch by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Asteroid Rayman was named in recognition of his contributions to space exploration. He tested new technologies on this mission including exotic systems as ion propulsion and artificial intelligence designed to reduce the cost and risk and to improve the performance of subsequent interplanetary missions. Launched in September 2007, Dawn is designed to orbit two giants of the main asteroid belt, protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, in an ambitious mission that has revealed much about the dawn of the solar system. Dr. Rayman combined his scientific training with his lifelong study and passion for astronomy and the exploration of space by joining JPL in 1986. His work there has spanned a broad range, including optical interferometry missions to detect planets around other stars, design of a mission to return samples from Mars, a laser altimeter for Mars, the Spitzer infrared space telescope, the development of systems to use lasers instead of radios to communicate with interplanetary spacecraft, and more. Dr. Rayman is the recipient of numerous honors. His many accolades from NASA include an extraordinary three Exceptional Achievement Medals and two Outstanding Leadership Medals, which are among NASA’s most selective awards. He was named a JPL Fellow, the highest technical position available, “for extraordinary technical contributions made over an extended period.” Dawn Mission Blog
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