Friday, May 14, 2010

Juniper Jairala

Juniper is an EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) Hardware Test Engineer  supporting NEEMO through the Crew and Thermal Systems Division at NASA  Johnson Space CenterJuniper Jairala once built international theme parks (while secretly performing in samba shows by night). Now she develops space hardware (while fire dancing by night).

Juniper grew up in Chicago, Illinois, Del Mar, California, and Quito, Ecuador. She recevied a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, and then went to build theme parks with Universal Studios and Warner Brothers in Japan and Spain (while samba dancing by night). Juniper's next adventure was working at NASA's Dryden Flight Research center with experimental aircraft, test pilots, and scientists.

However, Juniper's main passion was for human spaceflight, so she next earned a master's of science in aerospace engineering and bioastronautics from CU-Boulder. She worked in various private human spaceflight companies before coming to Johnson Space Center. Her current position has her scuba diving with astronauts, flying on the parabolic aircraft, developing space suits, bouncing on treadmills, and testing out new components of the International Space Station from an EVA perspective. By night, she performs with two Houston fire troupes, Zion's Flame and Luminosity.

A fluent Spanish-speaking Latina with immigrant parents, Juniper also loves encouraging kids - especially girls and minorities - to pursue technology fields. She volunteers as a mentor to middle and high school students in math, science, and engineering through the Society of Hispanic Engineers, and several Houston programs. She likes showing kids how cool and easy it is to be a geek, and how achievable it is to work at places like NASA, where you get to do cool stuff like NEEMO!

Juniper's primary role on NEEMO 14 will be as a support diver for the aquanauts as they collect data regarding the effects of suit design on their performance in reduced-gravity environments (like those on the moon or Mars).

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