February 17, 2008


Robert Jastrow, 82; astrophysicist helped shape NASA's space exploration (Thomas H. Maugh II, 2/17/08, Los Angeles Times)

As the founder and 20-year head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, he oversaw planning for the Pioneer, Voyager and Galileo space probes, which returned the first good information about other planets in the solar system. The institute also played a key role in research on the use of satellites to study climate and weather on Earth.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, who thought scientists should remain secluded in their laboratories, Jastrow was a frequent guest on CBS and NBC during the missions to the moon, educating millions of Americans about orbital mechanics and the physics of spacecraft, as well as the history of the solar system.

He later hosted more than 100 programs for CBS explaining space and other scientific problems.

"He had a deep sense of the need to interpret science and make it available to the public," said Johns Hopkins University planetary scientist Albert Arking, a former student of Jastrow. "His enthusiasm for science was infectious."

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 17, 2008 9:43 AM
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