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WoW Blog (Woman of the Week) Blog

WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

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Woman of the Week – Nancy Roman

Posted April 17, 2017 4:30 PM by lmno24

Nancy Grace Roman is an American astronomer who was one of the first female executives at NASA and also played a crucial role in the planning of the Hubble Space Telescope. She is also known as a remarkable public speaker, educator, and advocate for women in science.

She was born in Nashville, Tenn., but lived in a number of places. In 1937, she moved to Baltimore, Md., for junior high and high school. Roman attended Swarthmore College in 1946 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy. While she studied there, she worked at the Sproul Observatory. After this, she went on to receive her Ph.D. in the same field at the University of Chicago in 1949. She stayed at the university for six more years working at the Yerkes Observatory, sometimes traveling to the McDonald Observatory in Texas to work as a research associate with W.W. Morgan. The research position was not permanent, so she became an instructor and later an assistant professor.

Roman eventually left her job at the university because of the difficulty for a woman at the time to receive tenure for a research position, but she remained involved at the school.

She’s lived in Washington D.C. for most of her adult life.

When Roman was eleven years old, she showed her early interest in astronomy by forming an astronomy club at school. She and her classmates got together weekly and learned about constellations from books. Although discouraged by those around her, Roman knew by the time she was in high school that she wanted to pursue her passion for astronomy. She attended Western High School in Baltimore where she participated in an accelerated program and graduated in three years.

She joined NASA in 1959, a few months after its formation, to set up a program of astronomy from space. Roman was the first Chief of Astronomy in NASA's Office of Space Science, setting up the initial program; she was the first woman to hold an executive position at the space agency.

As part of her job, she traveled around the country trying to learn what astronomers wanted from NASA. She knew they wanted space observations from above the atmosphere because “Looking through the atmosphere is somewhat like looking through a piece of old, stained glass,” she said.

She set up a committee of astronomers, plus NASA engineers, to decide how to get those observations. The Hubble Telescope was a result. It was carried into orbit by a space shuttle in 1990 and remains in service to this day. Roman was very involved with the early planning and specifically the setting up of the program's structure. Because of her contribution, she is often called the “Mother of Hubble."

During her time at NASA, Roman developed and budgeted various programs, and organized their scientific participation. She was involved in launching three Orbiting Solar Observatories and three Small Astronomical Satellites. These satellites used ultraviolet and x-ray technology for observing the sun, space, and sky. She also oversaw the launches of other Orbiting Astronomical Observatories that used optical and ultraviolet measurements, working with Dixon Ashworth. She planned for other smaller programs such as the Astronomy Rocket Program, High Energy Astronomy Observatories, the Scout Probe to measure the relativistic gravity redshift and other experiments on Spacelab, Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab.

After working for NASA for twenty-one years, she continued, until 1997, her work for contractors who supported the Goddard Space Flight Center. Roman was also a consultant for ORI, Inc. from 1980 to 1988. She still lives in Washington D.C. and turns 92 in May.

Sources:

http://www.uuworld.org/articles/nasa-fellowship

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Roman

https://science.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/fellowship-programs/nancy-grace-roman-technology-fellowships-astrophysics-early-career-researchers/roman-fellowship-bio

https://women.nasa.gov/nancy-grace-roman-2/

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Guru

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 10371
Good Answers: 126
#1

Re: Woman of the Week – Nancy Roman

04/18/2017 9:36 AM

Anyone with the last name Roman, or Romans could be or once was dear to my heart. Never met a bad one, Nancy is one of the all time greats. I think my cousin worked with her at least once.

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Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Woman of the Week – Nancy Roman

04/18/2017 11:58 AM

I've noticed that certain names tend to have rather definable characteristics that go with them.

I have met several people with the last name, 'Goodman' yet every one of them was an all round arrogant and or rotten human being in every way possible. Not good people by any measure.

Around here we have a lot of Petersons and Burgs who by in large are a bunch of pompous dummies, dicks and drunks.

Then there are the Sutter, Anderson and Miller last names. Rarely ever meet one of them that's not a decent upstanding person in one or more ways.

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Guru

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 10371
Good Answers: 126
#3
In reply to #2

Re: Woman of the Week – Nancy Roman

04/18/2017 12:25 PM

Are we saying that character runs in blood lines? It might seem to, but I have already proven that wrong in my family's case.

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Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 8113
Good Answers: 745
#4
In reply to #3

Re: Woman of the Week – Nancy Roman

04/18/2017 2:43 PM

Black sheep effect I think. Every good family has a bad seed or two and every crappy family has one or two good people who don't fit the general bloodline as well.

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