National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) gots its first woman ‘science chief”. Nicola Fox, who heads NASA’s heliophysics division, will be named the agency’s first female science chief, an official said. This will be the first time that a woman has led the space agency’s science division.
As the new associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Fox will be responsible for overseeing the agency’s various scientific programs. Some of these include the robotic missions that are designed to find traces of past life on Mars and the James Webb Telescope’s search for distant galaxies.
Before joining NASA, Fox was the scientist who led the Parker Solar Probe mission launched to study the sun in detail.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson praised Fox’s work on the mission in an email to the agency’s employees. He noted that her mission allowed scientists to gain a deeper understanding of the sun. She has been instrumental in making this complex area accessible to the public. Her work already spans so many areas of importance to the agency.” said the email.
Fox will also oversee a NASA study group that will help the military identify and characterize unidentified aerial phenomena, or objects that the Pentagon and the White House claim are threatening the country’s airspace.
Thomas Zurbuchen, a Swiss astrophysicist, served as the head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate since 2016. He retired in December 2022. Sandra Connelly has led the division since Zurbuchen’s departure.
In 2018, Fox was appointed as the head of the agency’s Heliophysics Division. She was responsible for overseeing NASA’s efforts in studying the Sun and its effect on Earth and other planets, as well as the Parker Solar probe. Before joining NASA, she worked at a laboratory operated by Johns Hopkins University.
Besides serving as a scientist, Fox has also contributed to various scientific articles and published multiple papers. In 2021, she received the Carl Sagan Memorial Award from the American Astronautical Society for her contributions to the field of heliophysics. She was also given the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2020.