Press Release

Johns Hopkins APL’s Guo Named an AIAA Fellow

Yanping Guo, of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, has been elected a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) — a prestigious honor bestowed on only 2,008 members in the organization’s history.

AIAA is the world’s largest aerospace technical society and has more than 30,000 individual members from 91 countries.

“Yanping was key in turning the much-studied but never realized Solar Probe into a doable mission, Parker Solar Probe. Using Venus instead of Jupiter for gravity assists, she enabled 24 solar flybys instead of only one, thus multiplying the science value while decreasing the complexity and cost of the mission,” said Tom Krimigis, the emeritus head of APL’s Space Exploration Sector and AIAA fellow who nominated Guo for the AIAA recognition. “Her accomplishment represented ‘out of the box’ thinking of the highest order.”

Guo has a long list of interplanetary mission design accomplishments and was nominated for leading the unique and innovative trajectory designs of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, as well as Parker Solar Probe to the Sun.

For more than 20 years, Guo has been responsible for the mission design of NASA’s APL-built New Horizons spacecraft, which performed a flyby of Pluto in 2015 and the first flyby of a Kuiper Belt object in 2019 and is now on an extended mission to explore the vast Kuiper Belt region. Guo has been a part of the mission from initial proposal through its successful operations and has designed and directed the spacecraft’s flight path across the solar system.

Guo also serves as the mission design and navigation manager for Parker Solar Probe, which launched in 2018 with the goal of making observations of the outer corona of the Sun. In her position, Guo oversees the probe’s mission design and navigation efforts and leads the development of the capability for flying the mission to the unexplored Sun region, as well as directing the probe’s flight path.

As a space mission designer, Guo has also served as a developer and leader for a number of other NASA mission proposals, studies and flight projects. She has received numerous awards, including the NASA Silver Achievement Medal, from many professional organizations. And in 2004, the International Astronomical Union approved the name “Guo” for asteroid 28513 to celebrate her many contributions to the space and mission design field.

“I’m truly honored to be elected an AIAA fellow and receive such prestigious recognition,” said Guo. “I am very grateful to APL for providing me the opportunities of working on the most intriguing and challenging space missions.”

AIAA bestows the status of fellow to “individuals in recognition of their notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences or technology of aeronautics and astronautics.” Members can only be elected to the position after having been selected as an associate fellow, and only one fellow from every 125 associate fellows is elected annually.

“The class of 2022 AIAA fellows are among the best minds in the aerospace profession,” said AIAA President Basil Hassan in a news release. “This distinguished set of individuals has earned the respect and gratitude of the aerospace community. We are in awe of their creativity and valued contributions to a better understanding of our universe.”

Guo was inducted in an awards gala held by the association in April.