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Nancy Roman, the Hubble Space Telescope, dies at age 93



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When Nancy Grace Roman was 11 years old, her family lived in Reno, Nevada. I was fascinated by stars in light night skies and joined with friends to form an astronomy club.

It was the beginning of a fascination throughout the cosmos.

Nancy Roman, who died on Wednesday at 93, was the first astronomical head of NASA and the first woman in a leadership position at the space agency. Roman supervised the early planning of the Hubble Space Telescope, which began to orbit the Earth above its atmosphere in April 1990 to capture an unimpeded vision of the universe.
Nancy Roman, who died on Wednesday at 93, was the first astronomical head of NASA and the first woman in a leadership position at the space agency. Roman supervised the early planning of the Hubble Space Telescope, which began to orbit the Earth above its atmosphere in April 1990 to capture an unimpeded vision of the universe. (NASA / NYT)

When he died Wednesday in Germantown, Maryland, at age 93, the Roman was reminded as "the mother of the Hubble."

As the first head of NASA's astronomy and the first woman in a leading position in the space agency, Roman supervised the early planning of the Hubble Space Telescope, which began to orbit the Earth above of his atmosphere in April 1990 to capture an unobstructed view of the universe.

Placed in orbit from a manned Discovery ferry named by American pioneering astronomer Edwin Hubble, it became the first large optical telescope in space. It has an improved knowledge of the distant galaxies and planets of the solar system itself by transmitting images that would be distorted if they were operating from within the Earth's atmosphere.

The idea of ​​this type of large optical telescope had circulated in the scientific world since astronomer Lyman Spitzer Jr. He imagined it in 1946. But the concept was skeptic about viability and cost. Thus, the path to the arrival of Hubble to the skies was long.

"It was Nancy in the old days before the Internet and before Google and the email and all that really helped to sell the Hubble Space Telescope, organized astronomers, who eventually convinced the Congress to finance it ", Edward J. Weiler, the successor of Roman as a head scientist at Hubble, told America's Voice in 2011.

In addition to coordinating the efforts of astronomers and engineers in the development of the Hubble, Roman wrote a testimony for the representatives of NASA to take Hubble's case before the Congress and presented the project to the Budget Table.

Roman also participated in the development of Cosmic Fund Explorer, a satellite launched in 1989 that confirmed Big Bang's theory of the creation of the universe.

He was a pioneer of women at a time when science was considered a world of men and became a lawyer for women in science.

"I still remember to ask my teacher of secondary school guidance to take a second year of algebra instead of a fifth year of Latin," he recalled. "She looked at my nose and mocked:" What lady would take mathematics instead of Latin? "This was the kind of reception I got to the fullest," said the Voice of America.

Roman was born on May 16, 1925 in Nashville, Tennessee, the only son of Irwin Roman, a geophysicist and Georgia (Smith) Roman, a music teacher. When he was 3 months old, the family marched to Texas and Oklahoma, where his father informed oil companies about drilling possibilities.

The family moved to Reno when his father was appointed regional regional head for federal geophysical research.

"In Reno, of course, the skies were very clear, a beautiful place to watch the sky and live on the edge of the city at that time," Roman recalled in a 1980 interview at the National Air Museum and Space. "We had very few lights. I started an astronomy club with the girls in the neighborhood. We learned the constellations, read astronomy. I have never lost my interest in that."

The family later moved to Baltimore, where he attended high school. He graduated in astronomy at Swarthmore College in 1946, earned a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1949, and worked at his Yerkes observatory as a researcher.

He later joined the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, specializing in radio astronomy, and was recruited by NASA in 1959, one year after its foundation.

"The idea of ​​entering with a clean and clean slate to set up a program that thought that probably influenced astronomy for 50 years was just a challenge that could not go down," he recalled in his interview with National Air and Space Museum.

Sputnik's launch of the Soviet Union in October 1957 proved that satellites could fly. However, NASA's first works on NASA did not have the glamor associated with the space flight crew program of the sixties in response to President John F. Kennedy's call for America to put a man on the moon at the end of the decade

The Roman retired from NASA in 1979, but continued as a consultant while the work advanced towards the launch of the Hubble. In 2017, when Lego created a women's suite of 231 pieces from NASA, the Roman resemblance was between four that appeared as pioneering women in space.

The death of Roman, in a hospital, was confirmed by a cousin, Laura Verreau, as reported by The Washington Post. He said he had lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and that he had no immediate survivors.

In his later years, Roman spent his love for space research on young people and, above all, he tried to inspire girls to pursue a scientific career. He taught astronomy to fifth grade students at Shepherd Elementary School in Washington in the late nineties.

As he said: "One of the reasons why I like to work with schools is to try to convince women who can be scientists and that science can be fun."

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