Dr Nicola Fox, head of science at Nasa

Dr Nicola Fox, head of science at Nasa

By BBC Radio 4

Dr Nicky Fox is only the second woman to hold the post of Head of Science at NASA since the agency was founded in 1958. She has responsibility for around a hundred missions which are investigating the mysteries of outer space. These missions are tackling questions such as how do hurricanes form and are we alone in the universe.

Nicky was born in Hitchin in Hertfordshire and her father introduced her to the wonders of space when she was just a few months old. In 1969 he lifted her out of her cot to watch the television coverage of the Apollo 11 mission when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Nicky’s enduring fascination with the cosmos led her to study physics at Imperial College in London.

After completing her PhD she took up a post-doctoral fellowship at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland. In 2010 she became the project scientist for the Parker Solar Probe, humanity’s first mission to a star, which launched in 2018 and is still flying through the sun’s atmosphere collecting data. Recently she oversaw the Osiris-Rex mission which brought back the first asteroid samples from deep space.

In 2021 Nicky was awarded the American Astronautical Society’s Carl Sagan Memorial Award for her leadership in the field of Heliophysics.

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