When Nancy Grace Roman was 11, the family lived in Reno, Nevada. She was thrilled by the stars in the clear night sky and joined friends to form an astronomical club.
It was the beginning of a lifelong fascination with the cosmos.
When she died Wednesday in Germantown, Maryland, at 93, Roman was remembered as "Hubble's mother."
As NASA's first astronomical commander and the first woman in a leading position on the space agency, Roman watched the early planning of the Hubble Space Telescope, which began to pave the ground over the atmosphere in April 1990 to capture an unobstructed view of the universe.
Located in circulation from a manned Discovery Shuttle and named for groundbreaking American astronomer Edwin Hubble, it became the first large optical telescope in space. It has increased knowledge of distant galaxies as well as planets in our own solar system by transmitting images that would have been distorted if it worked from the Earth's atmosphere.
The idea of that great optical telescope had circulated in the scientific world since the astronomer Lyman Spitzer Jr. imagined it in 1946. But the concept met with skepticism about feasibility and cost. So the way to get Hubble into heaven was long.
"It was Nancy in the old days before the Internet and before Google and email and all the things that really helped sell the Hubble Space Telescope, organizing the astronomers, who eventually convinced Congress to fund it," Edward J. Weiler, Roman's successor As Chief Scientist for Hubble, America & # 39; s Voice told 2011.
In addition to coordinating the efforts of astronomers and engineers in their development of Hubble, Roman testimony of NASA representatives made the case for Hubble before the congress and she submitted the project to the Budget Bureau.
Roman also participated in the development of the cosmic background traitor, a satellite launched in 1989, confirming the big-bang theory of the universe's creation.
She was a women's trail blazer at a time when science was considered a man's world, and she became a long-standing advocate of women in science.
"I still remember asking my high school instructor teacher for permission to take another year of algebra instead of a fifth year of Latin," she recalls. "She looked down on my nose and slipped," Which lady would take math instead of Latin? "It was the kind of reception I got the most out of," she told America's Voice.
Roman was born on May 16, 1925 in Nashville, Tennessee, the only child of Irwin Roman, a geophysicist and Georgia (Smith) Roman, a music teacher. When she was 3 months old, the family returned to Texas and Oklahoma, where her father provided oil companies with drilling opportunities.
The family moved to Reno when her father was called Western Regional Head of Federal Research on Geophysics.
"In Reno, of course, clouds were very clear, a beautiful place to observe the sky, and we lived on the edge of the city at that time," Roman said in a 1980 interview for the National Air and Space Museum. "We had very little light. I started an astronomical club with the girls in the neighborhood. We learned the constellations, read astronomy. I just never lost my interest in it."
The family later moved to Baltimore, where she attended high school. She received a degree in astronomy from Swarthmore College in 1946, obtained a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1949 and then worked at her Yerkes Observatory as a researcher.
She later joined the US Naval Research Laboratory, which specializes in radio astronomy, and was recruited by NASA in 1959, a year after its founding.
"The idea of coming in with an absolutely pure slate to create a program that I thought would affect astronomy for 50 years was just a challenge I couldn't beat", she recalled in her national air and room museum interview.
The Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik in October 1957 showed that satellites could fly. Nonetheless, Roman's early work on NASA lacked the glamor associated with the manned 1960's spaceflight program in response to President John F. Kennedy's call to America to put a man on the moon at the end of the decade. .
Roman retirees from NASA in 1979, but continued as a consultant as the work progressed to Hubble's launch. In 2017, when Lego created a 231-split Women of NASA set, Roman equality among four was that of women who were rumpies.
Roman death at a hospital was confirmed by a cousin, Laura Verreau, The Washington Post reported. It said she had lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and had no immediate survivors.
In recent years, Roman love for space research consisted of young people, and in particular sought to inspire girls to pursue a science career. She taught astronomy to fifth grade at the Shepherd Elementary School in Washington at the end of the 1990s.
As she says, "One of the reasons I like to work with schools is trying to convince women that they can be scientists and that science can be fun."