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Precision Thrusters

Task Manager

Dr. Juergen MuellerDr. Juergen Mueller

Dr. Juergen Mueller is JPL's lead in micro-thrust propulsion, having build up this area of research since 1995. He has 17 years of experience in electric propulsion. He received a Diploma in Physics at the University of Giessen, Germany in 1987 with a research project on RIT ion engines, and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Penn State University in 1993 under a Fulbright scholarship with a thesis on microwave electrothermal propulsion. Since joining the Advanced Propulsion Technology Group of JPL in 1991, Dr. Mueller has worked on microwave electrothermal thrusters, ion engines, carbon-carbon ion accelerator grids, Hall thrusters, and has participated in miscellaneous spacecraft mission studies, including in JPL's Advanced Projects Design team (Team X). More recently, Dr. Mueller has been leading JPL's micro-thrust propulsion activities. Dr. Mueller has authored in excess of 40 technical and journal papers in these areas, and was awarded the 2001 JPL Lew Allen Award of Excellence for his work in micropropulsion. Dr. Mueller has also obtained a NASA Space Act Award, approximately a dozen NASA Tech Brief Awards, and is holder of a US patent.
(818) 354-4755

Team Members

Dr. Colleen Marrese

Dr. Marrese is the design lead for Field Emitter Array (FEA) development for propulsion applications at JPL. She received a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1999. In 1993, she spend two semesters at the Propulsion Department of the Moscow Aviation Institute in Moscow, Russia, working in Hall thruster development. She currently is is employed in the Advanced Propulsion technology Group at JPL where she is the lead engineer for field emission cathode testing and modeling. Dr. Marrese is also currently participating in the New Millennium ST-7 project, conducting propellant stability experiments and planning contamination, plume and neutralization experiments. Dr. Marrese has published over 20 technical papers in electric propulsion, has obtained a NASA Space Act Award and two NASA Tech Briefs, and holds a US patent on miniature colloid thrusters.
(818) 354-8179

Mr. Richard Wirz (Caltech)

Richie Wirz is currently working on his Ph.D. thesis at Caltech on the discharge plasma processes of ion thrusters and the corresponding effects of ion thruster scaling under the National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship Program. Richie has recently received his M.S. from Caltech in Aeronautics and Applied Physics and previously received two B.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Ocean Engineer, with a minor in Mathematics, at Virginia Tech (VPI&SU). At NASA Langley he worked with the Space Exploration Office to generate feasibility analyses for Mars exploration for a wide range of funding scenarios. He also worked with the Space Station Freedom office and created a unique method for analyzing the vibrational characteristics of the Space Station main truss that increased both accelerometer measurement redundancy and accuracy. As an ocean engineer he has worked on renewable ocean energy, ship dynamics, and ship electrical systems. Most notably, he developed a method for significantly increasing the viability of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) with a method now known as the “Wirz Fraction.”
(818) 393-1175

Mr. Mike Gale (Caltech)

Michael Gale received a B.S. from Cornell University in engineering physics in May 2002. He then received a Masters of Aeronautics from California Institute of Technology in June 2003. Various projects include researching calibration methods for a 3D camera system for Dimensional Photonics of Bedford, MA and a study of vortex ring formation in biological systems as part of a Masters project. He plans to return to grad school for a PhD in aerospace engineering in the near future.

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