Sandra Cauffman currently serves as the Deputy Division Director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters. She previously served as the Deputy Director of the Earth Sciences Division and Acting Division Director, where she provided executive leadership, strategic direction, and overall management for the entire agency’s Earth Science portfolio, from technology development, applied science, research, mission implementation and operation.
Prior to joining NASA HQ, Sandra worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) for 25 years serving on a variety of roles. She served as the Deputy Systems Program Director for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R Series, a multi-billion dollar operational geostationary weather satellite program developed in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Before returning to the GOES program for the third time in her career, Sandra was the Deputy Project Manager for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) Mission, a NASA mission to the red planet, which launched on November 18, 2013 and arrived at Mars on September 21, 2014. MAVEN is providing a comprehensive picture of the present state of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere of Mars and the processes controlling them to determine how loss of volatiles to outer space in the present epoch varies with changing solar conditions.
She served as the Project Manager (PM) for the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (SMEX) (GEMS). In June 2009, GEMS was one of two missions selected for implementation competing on the 2008 SMEX Announcement of Opportunity (AO). GEMS was an Astrophysics mission using X-Ray polarimetry to probe the structure and effects of the formidable magnetic field around black holes, magnetars, dead stars. Previously, Mrs. Cauffman was the Assistant Director for Flight Projects Directorate since August 2004. As assistant Director, Sandra helped maintain technical and administrative oversight for the Directorate.
Sandra served as the Deputy Project Manager for the GOES-R Series Program. Before becoming the GOES-R Deputy Project Manager, she served as the Instrument Systems Manager for GOES-R, overseeing the research, development and implementation of multi-million dollar instruments directed toward exploration of the earth’s environment, weather prediction, charged particle detection, advanced data collection and search and rescue techniques.
Before joining GOES (again), Sandra served as the Project Formulation Office (PFO) Office Chief, where she was responsible for planning, implementing, and coordinating all activities related to the development of feasible mission concepts, requirements generation and formulation of new projects to be implemented such us Global Precipitation Mission (GPM), Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO), Constellation X, and Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA).
Sandra worked on GOES as an Instrument Manager supporting the design, development, fabrication, test and launch and on-orbit checkout of the GOES-I/M and N/P SXI and SEM instruments. She joined NASA in 1991, when she started as the Ground Systems Manager for the Satellite Servicing Project, where she supported missions such as Hubble Space Telescope (HST) First Servicing Mission, Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), and Explorers Platform (EP)/Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE). Before her NASA life, Sandra worked for Engineering and Economics Research (EER).
Sandra has been awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the NASA Exceptional Leadership Medal. She is also a four times recipient of the NASA Acquisition Improvement Award. She is a Senior Fellow on the Council for Excellence in Government. She received a B.S. in Physics, a B.S in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering, all from George Mason University. Sandra was born in Costa Rica and is fluent in Spanish.