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NASA names new historian

October 10, 2003 — NASA named today Dr. Steven J. Dick as the new director of their History Office and Chief Historian. He will assume his duties on November 3.

"We are delighted to have Steve join the NASA team," said Michael O'Brien, NASA's Assistant Administrator, Office of External Relations.

"With his diverse background, scientific accomplishments and thorough understanding of NASA, he will be an invaluable asset as the agency's historian," O'Brien said.

Dick has worked as an astronomer and historian of science at the U. S. Naval Observatory since 1979. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in astrophysics, Master of Arts and Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science from Indiana University. He fills the position that has been vacant since Dr. Roger D. Launius departed in July 2002, to become historian of the National Air and Space Museum.

He is a well-respected expert in the field of astrobiology and its cultural implications. He spent three years at the Naval Observatory's Southern Hemisphere station in New Zealand. He served as the Naval Observatory's first historian and has most recently been the Acting Chief of its Nautical Almanac Office.

Dick served on the panel examining the societal impact of possible life in the Mars rock.

"For initiating the new NASA multidisciplinary program in astrobiology, including the definition of the field of astrobiology, the formulation and initial establishment of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and the development of a Roadmap to guide future NASA investments in astrobiology" he received the NASA Group Achievement Award.

He is on the Editorial Board of several journals, including the Journal for the History of Astronomy, and is associate editor of the International Journal of Astrobiology.

He was the chairman of the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society; president of the History of Astronomy Commission of the International Astronomical Union; and president of the Philosophical Society of Washington.

Dick has authored more than 100 publications including: Plurality of Worlds, The Biological Universe, and Life on Other Worlds, the latter translated into four languages. He was also editor of Many Worlds published in 2000.

His history of the Naval Observatory, Sky and Ocean Joined received the John Lyman Award of the North American Society for Oceanic History for best book in 2002 in Science & Technology. It also won the Naval Observatory's Captain James Melville Gilliss Award for extraordinary dedication and exemplary service. Dick is also the author (with James Strick) of the forthcoming volume: The Living Universe (Rutgers University Press).

Dick and his wife live in Herndon, Virginia. They are the parents of two sons.

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