"Mother of Hubble" Nancy Grace Roman Dies at 93

Nancy Grace Roman, 'Mother of Hubble,' Dies at 93

Nancy Grace Roman, 'Mother of Hubble,' Dies at 93

She attended high school in Baltimore, where she requested to take a second year of algebra instead of a fifth year of Latin. She also shared how, while at Swarthmore College, the head of the physics department dissuaded her and women from going into physics.

Placed into orbit from a manned Discovery shuttle and named for pioneering American astronomer Edwin Hubble, it became the first large optical telescope in space.

Roman was awarded the Women in Aerospace Lifetime Achievement Award and the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award. She died on December 25 at the age of 93.

Roman was the first chief of astronomy in NASA's office of space science, the first woman to hold an executive position at the agency.

Roman worked for NASA for about twenty years until her retirement in 1979. As the Washington Post noted, Roman was interested in space at an early age and encouraged women to pursue education in math and science in light of the resistance she faced when becoming an astronomer.

Her cousin, Laura Verreau confirmed Thursday that Roman passed away on Christmas Day after a prolonged disease, according to the Associated Press. The reason behind this push is that looking through the Earth's atmosphere blurs or lessens the quality of the observation. "The glass has defects in it, so the image is blurred from that".

Dr. Nancy Grace Roman is shown with a model of the Orbiting Solar Observatory (OSO) in 1962.

In addition to coordinating the efforts of astronomers and engineers in their development of the Hubble, Dr Roman wrote testimony for Nasa representatives making the case for the Hubble before Congress and she pitched the project to the Bureau of the Budget. "More importantly, it was Roman more than anyone who convinced the astronomical community to get behind space astronomy". Roman retired, but when it did, its photographs of the cosmos electrified the world.

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While living in Reno, Roman started an astronomy club in the fifth grade with other girls from her neighborhood.

Nancy Grace Roman was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 16, 1925. Her mother was a former music teacher and a nature enthusiast who took her daughter outside at night to view the stars. She was later recruited by Nasa to be its first chief of astronomy in 1959, where she would work for two decades.

Despite the obstacles, she obtained a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1949. Upon leaving the school she took a job at the United States Naval Research Laboratory.

But Roman's path to NASA leadership was full of the usual challenges. She finished her NASA career at Goddard Space Flight Center where she served as the manager of the Astronomical Data Center.

In an interview with NASA Science she said, "If you enjoy puzzles, science or engineering may be the field for you, because scientific research and engineering is a continuous series of solving puzzles". Throughout her time at the US space agency, she was involved in several projects, including what would become the Hubble Space Telescope.

Roman resided in Chevy Chase, Maryland, at the time of her death and had no immediate survivors.

"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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