Nancy Grace Roman, known as the "Mother" of the Hubble Space Telescope and the first woman to hold a leadership position at NASA, died on Christmas Day.
A cousin, Laura Verreau, confirmed that Roman had died after a prolonged illness. She was 93 years old.
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As the first Chief of Astronomy at the NASA Space Research Office, Roman had a background in planning and developing programs such as the Cosmic Background Explorer Hubble Space Telescope according to NASA.
"In the 1960s and early 1970s, NASA had no one more important than financing and completing Hubble's first designs and concepts," wrote space historian Robert Zimmerman, "The Universe in a Mirror." Report on the emergence of Hubble, according to The Washington Post. "More importantly, it was [Dr. Roman] more than anyone who convinced the astronomical community to get behind space astronomy."
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Roman received her Ph.D. She was in astronomy at the University of Chicago in 1949 and joined NASA in 1959. She completed her NASA career at the Goddard Space Flight Center, where she headed the Astronomical Data Center.
After retiring from NASA in 1979, Roman continued to work as a contractor with Goddard. Throughout her career, she has worked to engage women and young people in science.
In 2017, Lego released a series of figures honoring NASA's four pioneering women, including a Roman.
"I'm glad," she once told Science Magazine: "I ignored the many people who told me that I could not be an astronomer.
A memorial service is planned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.