Dr. Helen Hwang

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Dr. Helen Hwang has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and has worked at NASA Ames Research Center for 24 years. For the past 15 years, she has focused on soft landings on planetary bodies in the solar system by ensuring the spacecraft are well protected with heat shields. She managed the teams that developed and designed the Mars Science Laboratory and Mars 2020 heat shields, which led to the successful landings of the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers. She is currently the Entry, Descent, and Landing Manager for the Dragonfly mission to Titan, and is also involved with the DAVINCI mission to Venus. Although she has worked in several different technical areas, her interest in heat shields dates back to her elementary school days when a visitor described the Space Shuttle tiles that NASA Ames developed. She dreams of one day launching a Hello Kitty-themed heat shield.