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NASA taps Jim Green as new chief scientist

NASA Jim Green

NASA’s Jim Green has been tapped to be the space agency’s new Chief Scientist. Photo Credit: NASA

NASA has selected the Science Mission Directorate’s Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green as the agency’s new chief scientist. The announcement was made on Tuesday, April 10 and will become effective on May 1. 

Green was chosen by the space agency’s current Acting Administrator, Robert Lightfoot and will succeed Gale Allen who has been handling the Chief Scientist role since 2016 (Allen has more than 30 years of service with the U.S. government).

“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 via an agency-issued release. “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.”

In his role as NASA’s Chief Scientist, Green will advise the NASA Administrator (when one is officially appointed, the agency has been operating without an actual Administrator since Charles Bolden resigned after the election of Donald Trump in ) as well as other agency officials regarding key investments that NASA is involved with. These include: “agency science programs, strategic planning and science policy.”

Green has been serving in his current role since August of 2006. He has worked out of NASA Headquarters with the agency’s Planetary Science Division. Green’s work with NASA has included relatively nearby destinations, such as the Moon (the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) the Red Planet (the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity as well as the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity) and further than we’ve ever explored before, Pluto and the Kuiper Belt (New Horizons).

With Green no longer serving in his role with the Planetary Science Division, a new lead will have to take the helm. Enter Lori Gaze, who was named to the position of acting director by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Glaze is well-suited for the role, having served as the chief of the Planetary Geology, Geophysics and Geochemistry Laboratory at Goddard Space Flight Center since 2017 (before that she served as the deputy director of Goddard’s Solar System Exploration Division).





Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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