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Florence Tan was born in Malaysia and wanted to work in the space business
ever since she saw Star Trek re-runs om Malaysian TV while growing up. She
made her way to college in the U.S and parlayed her early Networking Skills
with a fellow student into an internship and later, a career, at NASA Goddard
Space Flight Center.
She has designed and built electronics and written software for seven (7) mass
spectrometers that had been sent forth into various quadrants of the Solar
System, not all of which arrived intact. Of those that did not blow up or go
off course, one is roving and operating on the surface of Mars on the Rover
Curiosity, one is orbiting around Mars, and yet another is still operating 18
years after launch, orbiting around Saturn on the Cassini Orbiter. One is
resting on the surface of Titan and another on the surface of the moon.
She is currently the Electrical Lead Engineer of the Mars Organic Molecule
Analyzer (MOMA) on ExoMars, a European Rover launching in 2018. She is also
the Lead Electronics Engineer for Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer
(NGIMS) on the MAVEN Orbiter, which entered Mars Orbit in Sept 2014. She is
also the Electrical Lead Engineer of SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) on the Mars
Science Laboratory (MSL), better known as the Curiosity Rover, and was the
Electrical Lead Engineer for Neutral Mass Spectrometer(NMS) on LADEE, a
successful moon orbiter mission that ended in April 2014. She is married the
MOMA, MSL-SAM, MAVEN NGIMS, and LADEE NMS Software Lead Engineer and they have
two children. The family dinner table conversations have convinced her
children that SAM is really their third sibling.
Florence holds a M.B.A. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering, from Johns Hopkins
University, and B.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of Maryland.
Florence has been recognized with the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the
Robert Goddard Exceptional Achievement and multiple NASA Special Act Awards.
Florence likes volunteering in schools to encourage students to explore a
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) career. She is very
interested in the Etymology of the English and Malay languages and likes any
book by Bill Bryson and enjoys contorting herself into various yogic positions
daily. She is learning to slow down in her middle years and hopes that the
next 50 years will be just as interesting and fun as the last half century.
Throughout her entire career, she has had the good fortune of having continued
strong and unwavering support from her husband, children, parents and