Claudia Alexander, a project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory operated for NASA by the California Institute of Technology, died on July 11 at the Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia. She was 56 years old and had suffered from breast cancer.
Dr. Alexander was a native of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, but grew up in Santa Clara, California. She wanted to become a journalist but her parents pushed her into STEM fields. Dr. Alexander earned a bachelor’s degree in geophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree in geophysics and space physics at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in atmospheric, oceanic, and space sciences at the University of Michigan.
Dr. Alexander joined the staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1986. She was the project manager for the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn. More recently, she was the lead U.S. scientist on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission to rendezvous with the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.
Dr. Alexander was also the author of two children’s books including Windows to Adventure: Which of the Mountains is Greatest of All? (Red Phoenix Books, 2015).