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Meet: Daniel Winterhalter

Daniel Winterhalter

Space Plasma Physicist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

What I do

I have worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for more than 20 years now and thoroughly enjoy what I do. Currently, I am involved in three different activities that call for me to be a research scientist, a science experiment representative and an instrument designer.

As a research scientist, my present research interests include the spatial evolution of the solar wind into the outer reaches of the heliosphere, as well as its interaction with, and influence on, planetary environments. As a member of the Mars Global Surveyor Magnetometer team, I am particularly interested in how the solar wind interacts with Mars, as well as in Mars' internal magnetic field.

I am a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and served on the Education Committee. I was also an associate editor for the AGU's "Journal of Geophysics."

In my role as a science experiment representative, I represent the Mars Global Surveyor Magnetometer team by serving as the interface between the project and the science team members. I perform a similar function as the investigation scientist for the Cassini Radio Science Team (mission to Saturn).

As a member of several spaceflight teams over the years, I have been deeply involved with the planning, launching and operating of complex spacecraft and space science missions. I have received NASA Achievement Awards for my participation on the Voyagers 1 & 2, Pioneer 11 and Mars Observer interplanetary probes. I have also received a NASA Special Recognition Certificate for my work on Mars Observer.

In order to realize faster and better science returns from space missions, I have been involved as an instrument designer with the development and application of novel technologies to space science instrumentation and space missions (e.g., Solar Sail Mission to Mercury).

My Education

I have more or less gone the traditional route for a college education by first going to a community college and getting an Associate of Arts degree in 1971. From there I went on to the California State University in Fullerton and received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics in 1974 and then my M.A. degree in Physics from the University of California, Irvine in 1978.

My fascination with physics, and science in general, drove me to pursue a higher education. I earned an M.S. degree in Geophysics and Space Physics from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1982 and finally my Ph.D. from UCLA in the same subject in 1987.


I am married and my wife Muriel and I have a nine-year-old son Tristan. Soccer is the biggest thing in Tristan's life right now, so as a family, we spend a lot of time on the soccer field!

Some of my other favorite activities are sailing off the coast of Southern California, running marathons, working on our house, cooking and anything that involves Tristan!

Learn More From My Chats

winterhalter as chef

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