NASA’s Chief Scientist Jim Green will retire in early 2022 after more than 40 years. “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.”
From starting up NASA’s first internet to conducting groundbreaking research to hosting NASA’s podcast “Gravity Assist,” Green’s contributions to the agency are countless.
Green began his NASA career at the Magnetospheric Physics Branch at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1980. There, he developed and managed the Space Physics Analysis Network, SPAN, NASA’s first version of an internet. SPAN helped to herald the era of open science, in which scientists worldwide could rapidly access data and information, as well as communicate with each other.
At Marshall, Green served as a safety diver at the Neutral Buoyancy tank and made more than 150 dives. He collaborated with astronauts and engineers who trained to fly on Shuttles, perform space walks, and make repairs in orbit on satellites.
Green has specialized in the study of magnetic and electric fields and low energy plasma in the solar system. At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, he served as the co-investigator and the deputy project scientist on the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration mission, the first spacecraft dedicated to imaging Earth’s magnetosphere. He also became the deputy project scientist for mission operations and data analysis for two heliophysics missions that studied solar activity in the near-Earth environment: Wind and POLAR.
He has written more than 125 scientific articles in refereed journals across many topics across planetary science and astrophysics.
From 2006 to 2018, he held the role of director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. He counts among his biggest highlights the landing of the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars in 2012, employing a risky, complicated maneuver involving a “sky crane” for the first time.
“Over his more than four decades at NASA, Jim has successfully led teams to accomplish incredible missions – including the New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto, the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter, and the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Jim’s contributions helped us gain a better understanding of our solar system and our place in it.”