The Solar System Ambassador Program is through Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration research and development facility managed by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. Solar System Ambassadors give presentations on space related topics within their communities.
William J. Hurd, Ph.D. became a Solar System Ambassador in 2013 and is available to speak to space enthusiasts in the region surrounding his homes in Mesquite, Nevada and Steamboat Springs, Colorado. During his 40 year career (1967 to 2007) as an electrical engineer in the space program at JPL, he supported all NASA missions to the planets, specializing in communications systems related to the three 70-meter antennas worldwide which track aircraft in deep space. Hurd did research in deep space communications, the Global Positioning System (GPS) and military systems. When he retired he was a principal system architect in the Interplanetary Network Directorate. He received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for technical and managerial leadership in the receiver-demodulator system that has been used in the Deep Space Network for the last 20 years. Hurd served as Deputy Manager of the Communication Ground Systems section and is the author of 15 journal papers, 25 conference papers and holds six patents.
Hurd’s primary speaking topics are spacecraft exploration of the outer planets and their moons, and the Mars Rover Missions. The Voyager Missions which were launched in 1977 and continue to send signals from the furthest reaches of outer space are particularly interesting. More recent missions are investigating moons of Jupiter and Saturn for environments that might be capable of supporting life. He will consider a specialized topic upon request.