10 Eagle Scouts are on team behind NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto

Eleven of the 12 men who walked on the moon were Boy Scouts, but the links between NASA and Scouting didn’t end when we stopped manned moon landings.

Consider today’s Pluto flyby. More than nine years ago, NASA sent a probe called New Horizons to everyone’s favorite demoted planet.

Today, New Horizons soars past its destination. The probe made its closest approach to Pluto at 7:49 a.m. Eastern. (Read the latest on the mission here.)

And wouldn’t you know it, at least 10 of the members of the New Horizons team are Eagle Scouts.

The New Horizons spacecraft, about the size of a baby grand piano, launched on Jan. 19, 2006. Its mission: take high-res photos (like the one above) and send back valuable scientific information; for example, yesterday we learned that Pluto is bigger than first thought.

The excitement about Pluto and the New Horizons mission is only beginning. NASA is in the middle of a six-month study of Pluto and its moons. The information being gathered, NASA says, is “the highest priority for solar system exploration” and could reshape our understanding of the universe.

The Eagles are soaring

The mission is led by Eagle Scout Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. His official title: principal investigator.

He’s joined on the team by Eagle Scout Glen Fountain of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland. Fountain is project manager.

The eight other Eagle Scouts have these roles on the New Horizons team:

  • ATM Theme Team, Alice Team (Alice is one of the 7 science instruments)
  • Autonomy Lead
  • Mission Systems Engineer
  • SWAP (Solar Wind at Pluto) Principle Investigator
  • Ground Software Lead
  • LORRI (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager) Associate
  • GGI Affiliate for image processing and cartography
  • Postdoc, Hazards, GGI and KBO (Kuiper Belt Objects)

Also on the team: one Girl Scout Gold Award recipient and one recipient of the Queen’s Guide Award, Girlguiding UK’s highest honor.


Hat tip: Thanks to Nick DeMatt, senior engineer with the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, who is heavily involved with the Pluto space mission, for the info on these Eagle Scouts at NASA.

Image credit: NASA

About Bryan Wendell 3125 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.