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Guide to the John D. Mihalov Papers, 1960-1997
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Collections
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biographical History
  • Sources Consulted:
  • Indexing Terms
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement of the John D. Mihalov Papers

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: John D. Mihalov Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1960-1997
    Collection Number: PP05.22-JM
    Creator: Mihalov, John D. (John Donald)
    Extent: Volume: 18 cubic feet
    Repository: Ames Research Center, Ames History Office
    Moffett Field, California 94035
    Abstract: The John D. Mihalov Papers include record books, meeting notes, project proposals, correspondence, design reviews, experiment plans, circuit diagrams, instrument descriptions, test reports, data, charts, plots, presentations for international meetings, publications, peer reviews, press kits, and reference materials documenting Mihalov's solar physics contributions to Pioneers 6 through 11, Pioneer 12 (Pioneer Venus Orbiter), and the Galileo Probe during his career as a research scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center.
    Language: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright does not apply to United States government records. For non-government material, researcher must contact the original creator.

    Preferred Citation

    NASA Ames History Office, NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, California. PP05.22-JM, John D. Mihalov Papers, [Container number] : [Folder number]. [Identification of item]. [Date, if available].

    Abbreviated Citation

    NASA ARC. PP05.22-JM, [Container number] : [Folder number]. [Identification of item]. [Date, if available].

    Related Collections

    Alvin Seiff Papers, 1955-2000
    Pioneer Project Records, 1952-1956

    Acquisition Information

    Materials transferred to the History Office by Charles Sobeck in October 2005.

    Biographical History

    John Donald Mihalov was born in Los Angeles on December 28, 1937. His father was John Mihalov, and his mother was Alice Alma Lydia (Wagner) Mihalov. Little information is available about his early years.
    In 1959, at the age of 22, he joined the technical staff of Space Technology Laboratories in El Segundo, California. In the same year, he received a B.S. in Physics from the California Institute of Technology. He moved to New York and became a Ph.D. candidate in Astronomy and Space Sciences at Cornell University. He also worked as a research assistant at Cornell's Center for Radiophysics and Space Research.
    He returned to California in 1961 and received an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. During that year, he was employed as a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Also in 1961, he joined the technical staff of the Space Physics Laboratory at the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California. He stayed at Aerospace for five years, helping on contracts for NASA.
    At Aerospace, Mihalov served as the Principal Investigator for the Electron Spectrometer on the KH-4 9047, which was a satellite that the United States Air Force launched into Earth's orbit for a month in 1962. The mission studied the effects of high altitude nuclear explosions by the United States and the Soviet Union.
    Also in 1962, he was the Principal Investigator for the Three Axis Fluxgate Magnetometer on the Mariner 1 mission. Mariner 1 was intended to fly by Venus, but it was purposely destroyed five minutes after launch because it was veering off course, possibly toward inhabited areas. Later, analysts learned that a missing hyphen in the computer code had caused the transmission of incorrect guidance signals to the spacecraft. Mihalov's magnetometer was demolished along with Mariner 1.
    Next, Mihalov served on the OV2-1 mission, which was a research satellite that the U.S. Air Force launched in 1965. For the OV2-1, Mihalov was the Principal Investigator for two experiments: a Cerenkov Counter that measured radiation, and a study on the biological hazards of radiation. However, during the launch, the upper stage rocket didn't separate as planned, and the mission failed. Later that year, Mihalov served as the Principal Investigator for a Low Energy Proton Spectrometer on the OV2-3 mission, but again the launch failed due to separation problems.
    In all, from 1962 to 1965, Mihalov helped design, construct, calibrate, and analyze experiments for six U.S. Air Force satellites. He completed his calibrations at accelerator facilities at the University of Southern California; the University of California, Berkeley; Stanford University; and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    In 1966, Mihalov became a research scientist in the Space Science Division at the NASA Ames Research Center. He started in the Electrodynamics Branch (Code SSE) under the direction of John Wolfe. Later, Mihalov moved to the Space Physics Branch (Code SSS), of which John Wolfe had become the Chief.
    Mihalov married Winifred Koch in 1967. Around that time, he was working on the Explorer 33 mission for NASA. Explorer 33 was a spacecraft that was designed to study interplanetary plasma, energetic charged particles, solar X rays, and magnetic fields. An onboard magnetometer measured magnetic field vectors, and Mihalov served as a Co-Investigator for the Explorer 33 magnetometer data.
    He also became involved with the Pioneer series satellites and was responsible for data analysis for the plasma analyzers on Pioneers 6 through 11. Pioneers 6 through 9 were launched into solar orbit to gather information about solar events. Pioneers 10 and 11 were launched toward Jupiter and were the first spacecraft to leave our solar system. Mihalov received the NASA Public Service Group Achievement Award for his work on the Pioneer 10 Plasma Analyzer.
    During these years, his marriage foundered, and he and his wife divorced in 1973. That year, he started a graduate program at Stanford University, taking classes part-time as he continued his work at NASA. He completed his advanced degree in Space Science Engineering in 1981.
    By 1977, Mihalov had moved to the Theoretical and Planetary Studies Branch (Code SST) of the Space Science Division, where he worked on the Pioneer Venus Orbiter (Pioneer 12). His role on the project was to study the solar wind in the vicinity of Venus. The solar wind constantly sweeps out into space from the Sun, affecting electrical and communication systems on Earth. On the Pioneer Venus Orbiter mission, Mihalov was a Co-Investigator for the Solar Wind Plasma Analyzer (OPA), which measured how the solar wind behaves at far distances from the sun.
    The next large project for Mihalov was the Galileo Probe, which was launched toward Jupiter in 1995. He was a Co-Investigator for the Atmospheric Structure Instrument (ASI), which measured the temperature, pressure, and density of Jupiter's atmosphere while the Probe descended closer and closer to Jupiter's surface. For the Probe mission, Mihalov also served as a Co-Investigator for the Lightning and Radio Emission Detector (LRD), which measured the characteristics of lightning on Jupiter, as well as the planet's radio frequency noise levels. The LRD experiment shared a common set of electronics with another Probe experiment called the Energetic Particles Investigation (EPI).
    Meanwhile, Mihalov's interest in Mars was growing. The Mars Observer mission was slated to study the geoscience and climate of Mars, and Mihalov submitted a proposal to study and interpret the Observer's gamma-ray spectrometer data. Not only was his proposal rejected, but the ill-fated Observer never reached Mars. Undaunted, Mihalov became involved with the Mars Pathfinder mission, which evaluated the Martian environment for further explorations. He assisted Alvin Seiff with a paper about the Pathfinder's Atmospheric Structure Instrument/Meteorology Package (ASI/MET), which recorded data about the atmospheric structure of Mars and the meteorological conditions on the planet's surface. In addition to this paper with Seiff, Mihalov published several other papers about the Mars Pathfinder mission.
    In 2001, he received a Length of Service Award to commemorate his 35 years at NASA. He died on January 15, 2002.
    John D. Mihalov was a member of the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Astronomical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His considerable achievements include service on numerous NASA missions plus the publication of over 100 scientific papers. He contributed to the studies of Earth's trapped radiation, Earth's radiation belts, the interplanetary medium, solar wind interaction with the moon and with Venus, solar wind in the outer heliosphere, shock propagation in the outer heliosphere, the atmosphere of Jupiter, and the magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn.

    Sources Consulted:

    Ancestry.com. Retrieved March 29, 2011 from http://www.ancestry.com 
    Kalte, P.M. & Nemeh, K.H. (Eds.) (2003). American men & women of science (21st ed., Vol. 5) . Detroit: Thomson Gale.
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, California. (2001, July 9). The Ames astrogram. Retrieved May 17, 2011 from http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/pdf/80041main_07901Astrogram.pdf 
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, California. (1967-1985). NASA phone book.
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Space Science Data Center . Retrieved March 29, 2011 from http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov 
    Yuster-Freeman, L.C., et al. (Eds.) (1994). Who's who in science and engineering . New Providence, New Jersey: Marquis Who's Who.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms may be used to index this collection.

    Corporate Name

    Ames Research Center
    Max Planck Institute for Aeronomy
    University of Kiel

    Geographic Name

    Moffett Field (Calif.)

    Personal Name

    Mihalov, John D.


    Energetic Particles Investigation
    Galileo probe
    Lightning and Radio Emission Detector
    Pioneer 6-9 (Spacecraft)
    Pioneer 10 (Spacecraft)
    Pioneer 11 (Spacecraft)
    Pioneer 12 (Spacecraft)
    Pioneer Venus spacecraft
    Plasmas (physics)
    Solar physics
    Solar planetary interactions
    Solar wind

    Scope and Content

    The John D. Mihalov Papers (18 cubic feet) include technical documents, correspondence, reports, data, conference documentation, and publications detailing Mihalov's contributions to Pioneers 6 through 11 (Pioneers A-G), Pioneer 12 (Pioneer Venus Orbiter, Pioneer Venus 1), and the Galileo Probe (Jupiter Orbiter Probe).
    The first series, Record Books, contains technical diaries that Mihalov kept from 1968 to 1992. He filled them with ideas, calculations, and meticulous meeting notes. The notebooks focus on the Interplanetary Monitoring Platform, the Planetary Explorer, Jupiter exploration, scientific instruments on the Galileo Probe, and Pioneer 10 detector data.
    The second series, NASA Mission Files, documents Mihalov's involvement with Pioneers 6 through 11, Pioneer 12 (Pioneer Venus Orbiter), and the Galileo Probe. The files contain project management details, correspondence, scientific experiments, and informational materials.
    The third series, Project Proposals, consists of proposals that Mihalov produced for scientific experiments.
    The fourth series, Scientific Publications, records the development of his publications. It also includes research from his early years, as well as drafts of some of his writings that may not have reached publication.
    The fifth series, Meeting Materials, contains information about the international meetings he attended. Also, it records the development of the papers that he authored or co-authored for the meetings.
    The sixth series, Peer Reviews, consists of works where Mihalov was not the author or co-author, but he provided feedback to his peers.
    The seventh series, Reference Materials, contains books and papers that Mihalov used for research. Some of the items have marginalia in his handwriting. This series is largely unprocessed.

    Arrangement of the John D. Mihalov Papers

    The records are arranged in an order that reflects their technical and historical significance. At the top of the arrangement are Mihalov's record books and mission files, which he wrote and collected from the vantage point of a research scientist who participated in the decision-making processes of several remarkable NASA missions. His project proposals are presented next, revealing his creative ideas for mission experiments, sometimes before the missions were even established. During and after each mission, Mihalov wrote papers about his findings, and these are presented in the next two series, which are his scientific publications and meeting materials. Throughout his long career, Mihalov also helped other scientists with their research, and those contributions show up in the peer review series. The final series in the arrangement contains materials that Mihalov used for reference.
    The records of the collection are arranged in seven series, three of which are further arranged in subseries. Contents are in alphabetical order, with two exceptions. The record books are in chronological order, and the NASA missions are presented chronologically at the subseries level.
    1. I. Record Books
    2. II. NASA Mission Files
    3. 1. Pioneers 6 through 11
    4. 2. Pioneer 12 (Pioneer Venus Orbiter)
    5. 3. Galileo Probe
    6. A. Project Management
    7. B. Correspondence
    8. C. Experiments
    9. D. Informational Materials
    10. III. Project Proposals
    11. IV. Scientific Publications
    12. 1. Publications
    13. 2. Early Research
    14. 3. Unfinished Works
    15. V. Meeting Materials
    16. VI. Peer Reviews
    17. VII. Reference Materials
    Where possible, Mihalov's original order was maintained at the box level, and his folder titles were preserved. However, the bulk of the collection consisted of loose material in no discernable order, so it was necessary to impose an arrangement.