Psst, wanna know who Nancy Grace was?
“When I was a girl, women were not supposed to be scientists. At least, that’s what I was told,” astronomer Nancy Grace Roman wrote in an autobiographical essay for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
Roman faced down discouragement and disapproval to pursue a graduate degree and a career in astronomy, and was a vocal advocate for women in the sciences throughout her professional life.
Roman’s discovery of irregularities in “normal” stars’ orbits and how the quantities of heavy chemical elements in stars change as they age was one of the first clues to reveal to scientists how the Milky Way galaxy evolved.
In 1959 — the first year of NASA’s operation — the agency tasked Roman with creating a program that coordinated satellites, sounding rockets, balloons and ground research to support space observation for half a century. Until 1979, she also served in the NASA Office of Space Science as the Chief of the Astronomy and Relativity Programs.
She is also known as the “Mother of Hubble” for her efforts in the development of the Hubble Space Telescope — the first powerful optical telescope in space — which launched in 1990 and remains active to this day.
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