Scope and Content
Arrangement of the John D. Mihalov Papers
Title: John D. Mihalov Papers
Date (inclusive): 1960-1997
Collection Number: PP05.22-JM
Mihalov, John D. (John Donald)
Volume: 18 cubic feet
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
Collection is open for research.
Copyright does not apply to United States government records. For non-government
material, researcher must contact the original creator.
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].
NASA ARC. PP05.22-JM, [Container number] : [Folder number]. [Identification of item].
[Date, if available].
Alvin Seiff Papers, 1955-2000
Pioneer Project Records, 1952-1956
Materials transferred to the History Office by Charles Sobeck in October 2005.
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
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
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
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.
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. (1967-1985).
NASA phone book.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
Science Data Center
. Retrieved March 29, 2011 from
Yuster-Freeman, L.C., et al. (Eds.) (1994).
Who's who in
science and engineering
. New Providence, New Jersey: Marquis Who's Who.
The following terms may be used to index this collection.
Ames Research Center
Max Planck Institute for
University of Kiel
Mihalov, John D.
Energetic Particles Investigation
Lightning and Radio Emission Detector
Pioneer 6-9 (Spacecraft)
Pioneer 10 (Spacecraft)
Pioneer 11 (Spacecraft)
Pioneer 12 (Spacecraft)
Pioneer Venus spacecraft
Solar planetary interactions
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
The third series, Project Proposals, consists of proposals that Mihalov produced for
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
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
- I. Record Books
- II. NASA Mission Files
- 1. Pioneers 6 through 11
- 2. Pioneer 12 (Pioneer Venus Orbiter)
- 3. Galileo Probe
- A. Project Management
- B. Correspondence
- C. Experiments
- D. Informational Materials
- III. Project Proposals
- IV. Scientific Publications
- 1. Publications
- 2. Early Research
- 3. Unfinished Works
- V. Meeting Materials
- VI. Peer Reviews
- 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.