Dr Nancy Grace Roman was the first Chief of Astronomy in the Office of Space Science at the headquarters of the space agency located at Washington DC.
NASA’s WFIRST Mission renamed! The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Wednesday announced that they have renamed their Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) to Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. The space telescope mission, which is scheduled to be launched in the mid-2020s to help NASA explore dark energy and dark matter, has been renamed in the honour of the woman astronomer who paved the path for women at NASA, in the agency’s own words.
Dr Nancy Grace Roman was the first Chief of Astronomy in the Office of Space Science at the headquarters of the space agency located at Washington DC. With this position, she also became the first woman to hold the position of an executive in NASA. Often referred to as the Mother of Hubble, Dr Roman oversaw the planning and development of the Hubble Space Telescope project, apart from several others.
Her career at NASA spanned 20 years, during which she became an inspiration for women, who were at that time not even allowed to pursue careers in the field of Science and Mathematics, according to Associate Administrator for Science at NASA, Thomas Zurbuchen, who made the announcement during an online live session. In her own words, Dr Roman had been interested in astronomy since she was a little child, but was often told that women could not be scientists. However, she went on to become an astronomer anyway, going ahead to become the highest-ranking woman at NASA during her time.
Zurbuchen, during the announcement, said that since Dr Roman had the insight to imagine a project like Hubble before it was even conceptualised and was a key person in the planning of the first great space observatory of the NASA, the space agency decided to name the WFIRST after her, since the WFIRST is the agency’s most powerful upcoming space observatory.
Zurbuchen added that Dr Roman deserves to be associated with the WFIRST, even though she is no longer alive, since she enabled the mission in a direct manner.
The space telescope mission, involving the now called Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, has been developed by NASA to conducted large surveys of the universe using infrared technology. This telescope would generate images of the same quality as the Hubble, but would cover an area 100 times that covered by the Hubble telescope, since the latter uses ultraviolet vision to generate images of the vast space.
The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is being managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland’s Greenbelt, where Dr Roman finished her 20-year-long career at the space agency.