Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Candice Hansen-Koharcheck received NASA’s Outstanding Public Leadership Medal for her work on the JunoCam camera that is taking amazing images of Jupiter.

Hansen-Koharcheck is a Co-Investigator on the Juno mission now orbiting Jupiter, responsible for the development and operation of the JunoCam outreach camera that engages the public in planning images of Jupiter. Amateur astronomers supply images from their backyard telescopes for planning.  Citizen scientists and artists download raw images and then contribute their own processed versions to the JunoCam online gallery at 

“The images are amazing. When we designed the outreach part of the experiment we went all in – no science team waiting in the wings to jump in if the public didn’t. So it is incredibly gratifying to see the public’s enthusiasm and to enjoy the beauty of their contributions,” Hansen-Koharcheck said. “The public outreach is the essence of the investigation. I really did not anticipate the art community getting involved, and it is really wonderful to me, a scientist, to enjoy Jupiter through the eyes of an artist.”

The NASA Outstanding Public Leadership medal is awarded to non-government employees for notable leadership accomplishments that have significantly influenced the NASA mission. This includes sustained leadership and exceptionally high-impact leadership achievements that demonstrate the individual’s effectiveness in advancing the agency’s goals and image in present and future terms.

“The processing and enhancement of Junocam images by the public has made Jupiter an object of beauty,” said Mark Sykes, PSI Director. “They have also revealed a new level of detail of the complexity of Jupiter’s atmosphere that inspire new investigations and insights. Candy’s recognition by NASA is well-deserved.”

Hansen-Koharcheck’s planetary science experience is extensive. She began her career in 1977 working with the Voyager Imaging Science team shortly before the Voyager spacecraft were launched. She continued working on Voyager through the Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune flybys.  In addition to her work on JunoCam, she is currently a Co-Investigator on the Cassini ultraviolet instrument team, using the ultraviolet data to study Saturn’s moons, in particular the water vapor plume erupting from Enceladus. She is the deputy Principal Investigator for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter high-resolution camera (“HiRISE”), in its 10th year of operation, and is science theme lead for the study of Mars’ seasonal CO2 polar caps. Hansen-Koharcheck is a co-author of the book “Mars: The Pristine Beauty of the Red Planet,”  an outstanding collection of HiRISE high-resolution color images with explanatory captions. She is a Co-Investigator on the camera on the European Mars Trace Gas Orbiter mission, and a Co-Investigator on the camera team for the Europa Clipper Mission.

Hansen-Koharcheck’s work on JunoCam is funded by a subcontract from Southwest Research Institute to the Planetary Science Institute. Juno is supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.