Alice Bowman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Alice Bowman
Alice Bowman reporting on New Horizons.jpg
Alice Bowman discussing the success of the New Horizons mission in 2015
EducationBA, physics and chemistry, University of Virginia
Known forMission Operations Manager for the New Horizons mission to Pluto
ChildrenNoah Carter Bowman
Scientific career
InstitutionsApplied Physics Laboratory, Howard County, Maryland

Alice Bowman (born 1960) is the Mission Operations Manager for the New Horizons mission to Pluto. She is the first woman to fill that role at the Applied Physics Laboratory,[1][2] taking on the position in 2002 specifically for the duration of the three billion-mile space journey.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Bowman grew up in Richmond, Virginia. She was influenced at an early age by the Gemini program, and in 1969 she watched the Apollo 11 moon landings.[3] Bowman originally majored in physics and chemistry at university, gaining a BA from the University of Virginia.[5]


She first worked in the defense industry analyzing infrared detectors[6] and developing anti-cancer drugs.[3] She entered the Applied Physics Laboratory as an engineer, intending to work on tracking incoming ballistic missiles.[3]

A member of the principal professional staff at the APL, she is supervisor of the university's own Space Mission Operation Group and Mission Operations Manager (MOM) of the Mission Operations Centre on the New Horizons project.[5] This title is one, it has been suggested, that male personnel refer to traditionally as "Ops manager"; but Bowman, as "a physicist, space commander and parent, embraces the broader term" of MOM.[7] Bowman leads a team of approximately 40 people,[5] and personally assesses every piece of information the centre sends to the space crew before it dispatches.[8] Ten days before the eventual Pluto-encounter day, that entailed over 20,000 commands.[9] She has compared the levels of accuracy required to achieving a hole in one in golf.[9]


Bowman is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the International SpaceOps Committee.[5]

Awards and honors[edit]

Asteroid 146040 Alicebowman, discovered by Marc Buie at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in 2000, was named after her.[4] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 11 July 2018 (M.P.C. 110636).[10]

Personal life[edit]

She is married with one son, and for leisure plays the clarinet and bass,[6] with a particular interest in bluegrass music.[3]


  1. ^ "Earth Celebrates New Horizons' MOM, Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman". The Mary Sue. 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2015-07-16.
  2. ^ "The women of New Horizons' Pluto flyby". EarthSky. 2015-07-14. Retrieved 2015-07-16.
  3. ^ a b c d e Cowen, Ron (2017-02-21). "Cool Jobs: Probing Pluto". Science News for Students. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  4. ^ a b c "146040 Alicebowman". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Committee on NASA Science Mission Extensions; Space Studies Board; Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences (29 January 2017). Extending Science: NASA's Space Science Mission Extensions and the Senior Review Process. National Academies Press. pp. 76–. ISBN 978-0-309-44878-9.
  6. ^ a b "Meet Our Staff". Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  7. ^ Witherspoon, Roger (January–February 2007). "Rocket Science: Navigating through the Solar System". US Black Engineer & IT. Vol. 30 no. 4. Career Communications Group. pp. 25–. ISSN 1088-3444.
  8. ^ Talbert, Tricia (2015-07-12). "The Women who Power NASA's New Horizons Mission to Pluto". NASA. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  9. ^ a b Taranovich, Steve. "Mission to Pluto: An interview with New Horizons' "MOM"". EDN. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  10. ^ a b "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 17 July 2018.