NASA announced Wednesday it will name its next-generation space telescope in honor of Nancy Grace Roman, the space agency’s first chief astronomer.
In a release posted on its website, the space agency calls Roman the “mother” of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched 30 years ago, this year. NASA says Roman tirelessly advocated for new tools that would allow scientists to study the broader universe from space.
Roman, who held a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Chicago, came to the space agency in 1959, six months after it was formed. She served as the chief of astronomy and relativity in the Office of Space Science. According to NASA, Roman spent much of her career working to establish new ways to probe the universe.
In the mid-1960s, she set up a committee of astronomers and engineers to envision a telescope that could accomplish important scientific goals. She convinced NASA and Congress that it was a priority to launch the most powerful space telescope the world had ever seen.
Hubble turned out to be the most scientifically revolutionary space telescope of all time. Roman died in 2018, leaving behind what NASA calls “a tremendous legacy in the scientific community. .
The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope – or Roman Space Telescope, for short – is NASA’s next-generation space telescope currently under development, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope. It is set for launch in the next five years and will investigate long-standing astronomical mysteries, such as the force behind the universe’s expansion, and search for distant planets beyond our solar system.