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Sona Hosseini

Research and Instrument Scientist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, USA

Sona Hosseini

Country of Birth: Iran
Country of Residence: USA
Educational Background: BS in Physics, Molecular and Atomic Spectroscopy; MS in Astronomy; PhD in Engineering Applied Science

I was born in Iran and moved to San Antonio, Texas when I was two. In second grade, I fell in love with astronomy during a day trip to NASA’s Houston Space Center. I was told I need a PhD to work there so I thought my mom and I could purchase a PhD and I’d be back the next day! It took a remarkable 26-years journey to get the PhD and join NASA, as an employee.

My family had a key role in supporting me and found the best mentors for me. We used to go to museums and have long talks about stars on our night walks. My grandparents called me “sar be hava,” which in Farsi means "my head is in the clouds!"

I’m a research and instrument scientist at JPL, a combination of planetary scientist and opto-mechanical engineer. I develop high spectral resolution spectrometers to study comets and planetary atmospheres. I’m currently working with fellow JPL engineers and scientists to develop an instrument for planetary missions and CubeSats to study the solar system from space.

I have a strong logical and artistic mind. I enjoy instrumentation and spectroscopy but also music, art, dancing, and cycling. My biggest obstacle is that I’ve never been good at following rules! Even though it can be challenging, I end up creating my own path. It’s when I follow my own stars, I accomplish the most and feel awesome about it.

It’s OK to talk about your ideas with your mentors and friends. But my advice is don’t ask for their permission. Don’t be scared! Take risks and go where there is no path; you’ll leave a trail for others to follow!

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