Through her studies of the solar wind, Marcia Neugebauer has developed analytical techniques vital to understanding this flow of energetic particles from the sun and its impact on Earth. As we move into a decade of increased solar activity, the influence of the solar wind on orbital and terrestrial electronics and power systems will increase. In the future, as these communications systems become increasingly important to businesses everywhere, understanding the solar wind will become vital to fine-tuning these technologies.
Ms. Neugebauer's technical specialty is designing space instruments and analyzing data obtained in the solar wind and at comets. She was the Co-Principal Investigator of the Mariner-2 plasma analyzer that made the first unambiguous measurements of the solar wind. She has also worked on instruments that orbited Earth, some set up on the moon by the Apollo astronauts, and others that flew by Halley's comet on the European Giotto mission.
She has held many management and project positions at JPL including Manager of the Physics and Space Physics sections, Acting Manager of the Mariner Mark II study team, and Project Scientist for Rangers 1 and 2 and the Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby mission. She has been Study Scientist for many space missions. She is also the founding Vice-Chairman of JPL's Advisory Council for Women. Ms. Neugebauer's has served on many committees for both NASA and the National Academy of Sciences, most recently chairing the Academy's Committee on Solar and Space Physics. She has also been active in the American Geophysical Union, including terms as Editor-in-Chief of its journal "Reviews of Geophysics" and as the AGU President.
In 1967, the Museum of Science and Industry named Ms. Neugebauer "California Woman Scientist of the Year." She has received three NASA medals: the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award, the Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the Distinguished Service Medal (the highest award given by NASA).
She majored in physics, receiving a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.S. from the University of Illinois. She was employed at JPL until her retirement in 1996, with intermittent visiting appointments at Cambridge University, Caltech, and UCLA.