Dr. Marc Rayman ’74 is still living his dream-come-true, exploring the cosmos from NASA/JPL. His most recent mission, Dawn, far exceeded all expectations and ended successfully with the spacecraft in orbit around dwarf planet Ceres. Because Ceres has all the ingredients for life, Dawn was not allowed to contact the ground, where the probe's terrestrial materials would contaminate that important astrobiological environment.
The final orbit was calculated to be stable for centuries. Marc received numerous awards during the past year, including NASA's prestigious Outstanding Leadership Medal (his seventh NASA medal), the International Space Operations Award, and the esteemed Swigert Award, named for an Apollo 13 astronaut. (The photo shows Marc at the ceremony, and you can see the five-minute video, including his entertaining acceptance speech before more than 1100 people). After he had many personally gratifying experiences designing, building, and flying interplanetary probes, JPL created a new position specifically for him in which he now has technical responsibility for all space missions. He devotes most of his time to helping missions that face especially challenging obstacles, including Voyager-2 (a mission he first heard of while a freshman at MV), Juno (currently in orbit around Jupiter), a mission preparing to go to Jupiter’s moon Europa (which has a subsurface ocean), and another preparing to travel to a 140-mile-wide asteroid made of metal. In his spare time, he is a popular dance teacher throughout Southern California, something neither he nor anyone who knew him at MV would ever have predicted!