Thursday, 24 January, 2019

NASA pioneer Nancy Grace Roman, the 'Mother of Hubble,' dead at 93

Dr. Nancy Grace Roman is shown with a model of the Orbiting Solar Observatory in 1962. She died on Christmas Day Dr. Nancy Grace Roman is shown with a model of the Orbiting Solar Observatory in 1962. She died on Christmas Day
Cary Marshall | 02 January, 2019, 00:56

Her mother, a music teacher and a nature enthusiast, often took her out at night to show her the constellations and the aurora.

Eventually, her passion for stargazing blossomed into a career as a renowned astronomer. On top of being the first chief astronomer, she was the first woman executive at NASA.

Nancy Grace Roman, best known as the "Mother of Hubble" for her efforts in making the space telescope a reality, passed away on December 25th at the age of 93. Even there, she recalled in an interview years later, she felt compelled to use the honorific "Dr".

Her path to becoming a scientist was not easy and she was forced to fight and defend her right to STEM education at every level. "What lady would take mathematics instead of Latin?" she said.

Roman overcame the misogyny and was awarded a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1949.

Roman worked for NASA for about twenty years until her retirement in 1979. "Everybody was gung ho". "More importantly, it was Roman more than anyone who convinced the astronomical community to get behind space astronomy".

"Astronomers had been wanting to get observations from above the atmosphere for a long time".

"I was told from the beginning that a woman could not be an astronomer", she said in a video released by NASA earlier this year.

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She was involved with such groundbreaking programs as the Cosmic Background Explorer, and as her informal title suggests, the beloved Hubble Space Telescope.

Roman was a key figure in the conception and launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, which has given us some of the most spectacular images of our galaxy.

A globular group of stars known as NGC 1898 is found in this picture taken by the Hubble Space Telescope utilizing the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) to appear close infrared to bright wavelengths, and the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) to appear close infrared to close bright wavelengths, acquired November 16, 2018. The success of the project led to future space telescopes.

On Thursday, Dec. 28, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine issued a statement to honor Roman and her contribution to science. She was also memorialized in the "Women of NASA" LEGO set.

Launched in 1990, it has been described as one of the most important scientific instruments ever created.

When Nancy Roman was 11 years old, her family was living in Reno, Nevada.

RUSSELL LEWIS, BYLINE: Nancy Grace Roman always loved to look up at the stars and imagine. In fifth grade, she organized an astronomy club. In a 1980 oral history published by the American Institute of Physics [https://tinyurl.com/y9qymy33], she discussed the challenges she encountered as a woman pursuing a career in astronomy.

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