Women’s History Month: Rutgers professor named mission head for new space telescope

The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is a successor to the Hubble and Webb telescopes. The Roman telescope will have a 200-times greater view.

Karina Gerry

Apr 1, 2024, 7:47 PM

Updated 23 days ago

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Rutgers astronomer Kristen McQuinn is ready to lift off to a new mission. She’s been chosen as the new mission head of the Science Operations Center for NASA’s next space telescope.
“I’m one of a couple of people that are at the forefront of putting together and launching this telescope,” McQuinn said. “And making sure we have the science and infrastructure in place to do some great work with it once it’s in orbit.”
The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is a successor to the Hubble and Webb telescopes. The Roman telescope will have a 200-times greater view.
“And it can also sort of move between where it’s looking in the sky faster,” McQuinn explained. “So, if you wanted to look into the big patch of sky with Roman, it can tile that patch of sky 1,000 times faster than the Hubble Space Telescope.”
Women currently make up 35% of the STEM workplace, according to the National Science Foundation. And those numbers go down even more when looking at astrophysicists.
“There have been some real challenges as a woman in science throughout my career,” McQuinn said. “There was a lot of prejudice against it, not everyone took my Ph.D seriously because I wasn’t working full time. I was passed over for a number of award nominations because I was a mom in science.”
McQuinn says this is why this current project is so exciting.
“I am a woman leading this part of the mission, my counterpart at NASA, a couple of counterparts actually that are working on building the spacecraft and the telescope and in charge of the behind-the-scenes work are also both women,” McQuinn said.
The telescope is expected to launch sometime in 2027.


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