Janice Elaine Voss died on February 6, 2012 from complications due to cancer. As an astronaut, over the course of five Space Shuttle missions, she expanded the body of knowledge in combustion science, and to the highest resolution mapping of Earth in history. As a scientist she contributed to the ongoing discovery of numerous planets outside of our solar system. Born on October 8, 1956 in South Bend, IN, she called Rockford, Illinois her hometown, where she attended Guilford Center. She graduated at 15 from Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham, MA.
Janice began working as a co-op for NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, in 1973, while a student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. Completing that five-year program in three years, she received her degree in Engineering Sciences in 1975. She earned a master's degree in Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, in 1977. She then returned to NASA for a year before beginning graduate work at Rice University. She graduated with her doctorate in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1987 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After graduation Dr. Janice Voss worked as a manager with Orbital Sciences Corporation. She applied to the astronaut program and was accepted into the astronaut class of 1990. Janice served aboard STS-57 in 1993, STS-63 in 1995, STS-83 and STS-94 both in 1997, and STS-99 in 2000. In 2004 she was assigned to the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA where she served as the Science Director for the Kepler project in conjunction with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She returned to the astronaut office at the Johnson Space Center in 2007 to serve as Payloads Lead.
Janice enjoyed piloting small planes, volleyball, and windsurfing. A lifelong dancer and an avid reader, she especially enjoyed reading science fiction by earthlight. She gave generously of her time to visit schools and work sites, and passionately encouraged young people to follow their dreams. She loved to visit family and friends during her frequent travels. She is survived by her parents, Dr. James Richard Voss and G. Louise Hinds Voss, Dupont, IN; sisters Vicky Fransham, Houston, TX, Linda Voss, Arlington, VA, and Karen Voss, Orlando, FL; nieces Amanda and Kimberly Fransham and Kristina Voss; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Memorial services for Janice to celebrate her life will be held February 24 at 3:00 p.m. Armstrong Hall at Purdue University, 701 West Stadium, West Lafayette, IN; February 26 at 2:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4848 Turner St. in Rockford, IL; and March 2 at 3:30 p.m. at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. In lieu of flowers, the family has established the Janice E. Voss scholarship fund at Purdue University, 403 Westwood Street, West Lafayette, IN, 47907, to continue Janice's legacy of encouraging young people to follow their dreams.