Alverno Heights Hosts Susan Finley, Pioneer at JPL

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Susan G. Finley

Students at Alverno Heights Academy recently hosted Susan G. Finley, the longest-serving woman in NASA who has been employed at JPL since 1958.
At 21, Finley left Scripps College to become an engineer with a thermodynamics group at Convair in Pomona. Like most women of her generation, Finley took time off at the beginning of her career to raise a family. Then, in 1958, she took a position at JPL.
Her job required trajectory computations for rocket launches. In 1962, it was Finley’s calculation that showed that Ranger 3 missed the moon by 22,000 miles. Through her career, Finley contributed to JPL’s missions to the Moon, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, in the Ranger, Mariner, Pioneer, Viking and Voyager programs.
She continues to work full-time for JPL and is involved in support for NASA’s recent unmanned missions, including the recent Pluto flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft and the Juno mission to Jupiter. She said she has no plans to retire and looks forward to seeing where space exploration goes.
“It was an incredible pleasure to welcome Sue Finley to campus,” Alverno Heights Academy Science teacher Monica Barsever said. “She is truly a role model for young women looking to enter the STEM fields and the impact she has made on the history of the space program is tremendous.”

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