Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 12:38 EDT

Tamara Jernigan

Tamara Jernigan is an American scientist and former NASA astronaut. She was born Tamara Elizabeth “Tammy” Jernigan on May 7, 1959 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She attended Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe Springs, CA and graduated in 1977. She then went on to attend Stanford University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1981 and a Master of Science degree in engineering science in 1983. While at Stanford, she was a member of the varsity volleyball team. Following her graduation, she worked as a research scientist in the Theoretical Studies Branch at NASA Ames Research Center until 1985, when she earned an M.A. in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley. In 1988, she earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in space physics and astronomy from Rice University.

In July 1986, Jernigan became a NASA astronaut. Her initial assignments included software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, operations coordination on secondary payloads, and spacecraft communicator in Mission Control for STS-30, STS-28, STS-34, STS-33, and STS-32. She also served as Chief of the Astronaut Office Mission Development Branch and Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office. Jernigan’s first flight to space was as a mission specialist on STS-40 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center on June 5, 1991. It was a dedicated space and life sciences mission during which the crew performed experiments learning how humans, animals, and cells respond and adapt to microgravity. After 146 orbits of the Earth, the mission ended with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base on June 14, 1991. Her next spaceflight was also as a mission specialist, this time on STS-52. Space Shuttle Columbia launched from the Kennedy Space Center on October 22, 1992. During the mission, the crew deployed the Italian Laser Geodynamic Satellite that would later be used to measure movement of the Earth’s crust. They also operated the U.S. Microgravity Payload 1 and conducted more research for Space Station Freedom. The ten day mission ended with a landing on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center on November 1, 1992. Her third flight to space was as payload commander aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-67, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center on March 2, 1995. It was the second flight of the Astro observatory, and during the mission they constantly studied ultraviolet reservations. The mission ended with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base in March 18, 1995.

Jernigan next flew aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on STS-80, which successfully sent out and retrieved two science satellites, ORFEUS/SPAS and the Wake Shield Facility. During the mission, Jones used the robotic arm to handle the satellites. Her last flight to space was on STS-96 aboard Discovery and launched on May 27, 1999. It was the first mission to dock with the International Space Station, and during the mission the crew delivered four tons of logistics and supplies in preparation for the arrival of the first crew to live on the station. After Jernigan performed a nearly eight-hour spacewalk, the crew landed back on Earth on June 6, 1999. Two years later, she retired from NASA and accepted a position at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where she currently serves as Assistant Associate Director for Physics and Advanced Technologies. She is married to former astronaut Peter Wisoff.

Image Caption: Tamara Jernigan. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia

Tamara Jernigan