NASA is about to close an important chapter in its history. Chief scientist Jim Green, who has worked for the agency for more than 40 years, now plans to retire in early 2022. He began developing NASA’s equivalent to the Internet (the Space Physics Analysis Network) shortly after arriving in 1980, but he is best known for overseeing some of NASA’s largest space reconnaissance projects in recent years. 15 years – you are probably very aware of his work.
Green led NASA’s Planetary Science Division during the Curiosity landing in 2012 and played a key role in promoting and explaining the Mars rover to the public. He also took leading roles during the Juno investigation into Jupiter, Messenger’s tour of Mercury, Dawn’s visit to Ceres, and New Horizons’ historical passage from Pluto. The scientist also eased plans for the Perseverance rover currently running on Mars.
It is not yet clear who will succeed Green, although he will help with the search for his replacement. However, it is safe to say that he will have a healthy legacy. He cultivated both missions and made them more accessible to the public – he helped explain why Curiosity, New Horizons and other vehicles were exciting. If you were pursuing a career in space science, Green’s work might have been an inspiration.
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