Stephen Watson ’78: Head in the clouds

1978 Watson, stephen

Brophy alumnus Stephen Watson ’78 has a day job. In NASA/JPL’s Juno Mission to Jupiter, he serves as the Project Software Systems Engineer on the mission. Busy collecting data, the project is in the middle of the second year of the five-year mission set to rendezvous with Jupiter in 2016. IN HIS SPARE TIME, he recently finished building and began started flying his plane. The Van’s Aircraft RV-7A kitplane cruises at a nice 180 knots.

Watson’s Van’s Aircraft was the 8,000th to take flight. Read more at

When asked about the Juno Mission, he reported, “Juno is operating well. The spacecraft is in idle mode at Earth point with SRU1 On and SSS1 On; attitude knowledge is 3-Axis Attitude Knowledge. The attitude determination mode is all-stellar. The spin rate is 1.971 RPM and stable. All subsystems are nominal. Instruments: ASC, FGM, JEDI, MWR and Waves or ON. JADE, JIRAM, JunoCam, UVS and Gravity Science are OFF. The command loss timer is set to 21 days. Downlink is via the high gain antenna at 200kbps on all DSN stations.

Stephen Watson ’78 and JPL anxiously await Mars Science Laboratory landing

NASA news from our inside man at JPL, alumnus Stephen Watson ’78: The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) landing is quickly approaching on the night of Aug 5th. Currently, we are 12 days from Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL), the famed 7 Minutes of Terror (video below.) Details can be found on JPL’s MSL page ( and live coverage on NASA TV at 8:30 PM PDT on Aug 5th, with the landing at 10:31 PM PDT.

Andrew Opila ’09 and Dan Garrity ’78 head for Turkey this summer

Andrew and Dan are off to Turkey this summer. Garrity is the Director of Gonzaga’s Broadcast & Electronic Media department, Opila his student. They will be producing, shooting and editing a series of travel shows documenting their experience starting in Istanbul and throughout western and central Turkey. Their goal is to showcase Turkey’s rich culture and history.

Opila said in an email, “Following our continued Jesuit education we want to educate our viewers purposefully and bring our world closure together around stories that have value. We just do it with video. There will be at least 5 shows and we will post them to our GUTV (Gonzaga University TV) YouTube channel and plan to blow up Facebook with it too.”

Before they begin their travel journal, Opila will spend three weeks backpacking through Turkey on the Lycian Way and Kackar Mountains with his older brother Chris ’07.

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