Dr. Nancy Grace Roman is shown with a model of the orbiting Solar Observatory (OSO) in 1962. She died on christmas day. (NASA)
Nancy Grace Roman, known as the “mother” of the Hubble space telescope and the first woman to hold an executive position at NASA, died on christmas day.
A cousin, Laura Verreau, confirmed that Roman had died after a long illness. She was 93.
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As the first chief of astronomy in the office of space science at NASA headquarters, Roman had oversight of the planning and development of programs such as the Cosmic Background Explorer and the Hubble Space Telescope, according to NASA.
“In the 1960s and early 1970s, there was no one at NASA, which was important in getting the initial designs and concepts for the Hubble telescope funded and running,” space historian Robert Zimmerman wrote in “The Universe in a Mirror,” an account of the creation of the Hubble telescope, according to The Washington Post. “More importantly, it was [Dr Roman] more than someone who is convinced that the astronomical community to the space astronomy.”
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Roman received her Ph. D. in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1949 and a member of the NASA in 1959. She ended her career at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where she served as the manager of the Astronomical Data Center.
After retiring from NASA in 1979, Roman continued to work as a contractor at Goddard. During her career, she has advocated for women and young people to get involved in science.
In 2017, Lego released a series of figurines honoring four pioneering women of NASA, one of them was the Roman.
“I’m glad,” she once told Science magazine, “I ignored the many people who told me that I couldn’t be an astronomer.”
A memorial service is being planned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.