NASA Announces New Chief Scientist, Senior Climate Advisor

Dr. Katherine Calvin, NASA chief scientist and senior climate advisor. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that Dr. Katherine Calvin will serve the agency in dual roles as chief scientist and senior climate advisor effective Monday.

Calvin succeeds Jim Green, who retired from his role Jan. 1 as chief scientist after more than 40 years of service at NASA, and Gavin Schmidt, who has served as senior climate advisor in an acting capacity since the position was created in February 2021. NASA established the senior climate advisor position to ensure effective fulfillment of the Biden-Harris Administration’s climate science objectives for the agency. Schmidt will maintain his role as director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

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Are We Alone in the Universe? NASA Calls for New Framework

TRAPPIST-1 f super Earth exoplanet (Credit: NASA)

by Elizabeth Landau
NASA Headquarters

How do we understand the significance of new scientific results related to the search for life? When would we be able to say, “yes, extraterrestrial life has been found?” 

NASA scientists are encouraging the scientific community to establish a new framework that provides context for findings related to the search for life. Writing in the journal Nature, they propose creating a scale for evaluating and combining different lines of evidence that would  ultimately lead to answering the ultimate question: Are we alone in the universe?   

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NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green to Retire in 2022

Jim Green, NASA’s Chief Science Officer—shown here speaking at a public event on Aug. 6, 2013, at NASA Headquarters observing the first anniversary of the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars—will retire in 2022. He has worked at NASA since 1980. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Chief Scientist Jim Green has announced that he will retire in early 2022 after more than 40 years of service at NASA.

“I feel tremendously proud about the activities I’ve done at NASA,” said Green. “In many ways, NASA is not a job. It’s a way of life. We’re always looking for ways to do the impossible. The fact that we continue to succeed and do those things is a tremendous excitement for everyone, and really is important not just for NASA, but for the nation.”

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NASA Names New Chief Scientist

Jim Green (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot has named the Science Mission Directorate’s Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green as the agency’s new chief scientist, effective May 1. He succeeds Gale Allen, who has served in an acting capacity since 2016 and will retire after more than 30 years of government service.

“I want to thank Gale for all she has done for the agency and, for the past few years, in the Office of the Chief Scientist. Gale had an amazing career and is a role model to so many. I wish her the best in retirement,” Lightfoot said. “I’m excited to have Jim take on this new role. He brings a variety of scientific research experience and planetary exploration expertise to the chief scientist position that will allow him to hit the ground running with great enthusiasm and engagement.”

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SpaceX Weighing Sending 2 Red Dragon Missions to Mars in 2020

Red Dragon enters Mars atmosphere. (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green said on Tuesday that SpaceX plans to launch two Red Dragon missions to Mars during the 2020 launch window.

“Every 26 months, the highway to Mars opens up, and that highway is going to be packed. We start out at the top of that opportunity with a SpaceX launch of Red Dragon. That will be followed at the end of that opportunity with another Red Dragon. Those have been announced by SpaceX,” Green said during an appearance at the Humans to Mars Summit in Washington, DC.

The Red Dragon is a modified version of the Dragon spacecraft SpaceX uses to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. SpaceX will send these automated vehicles to the surface as a precursor to human missions it wants to fly in the 2020’s.

SpaceX has announced that it will send a Red Dragon to the surface in 2020.  However, Elon Musk’s company has said nothing publicly about a second spacecraft. Red Dragons are designed to perform automated descent, entry and landings on the martian surface.

SpaceX had planned to launch the first Red Dragon mission in 2018. However, the effort was pushed back two years due to the company’s other commitments, which include commercial cargo and crew missions for NASA and a backed up launch manifest caused, in part, by two Falcon 9 failures.

The inaugural flight test of the Falcon Heavy booster that will launch the Red Dragon spacecraft has also been delayed for more than four years. That test is currently scheduled for the third quarter of 2017.

NASA is providing about $30 million in in-kind support for the first Red Dragon flight in exchange for entry data. The space agency’s support includes trajectory analysis and tracking and communications via the Deep Space Network.

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