VIDEO: Climate Scientist, NASA Astronaut Piers Sellers Dies At Age 61 In Houston

By  //  December 24, 2016

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Piers Sellers: 1955 - 2016

ABOVE VIDEO: Colleen Hartman, director of science and exploration at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, nominated Goddard scientist, former astronaut and climate champion Piers Sellers for NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal.

(NASA) – Astronaut Piers Sellers passed away Friday in Houston of pancreatic cancer. For several years Dr. Sellers had served as acting director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The following is a statement from Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese on Sellers’ passing:

“Piers came to Goddard in 1982 from his native Britain and ultimately left a legacy that few can claim. His career path took him from scientist, to astronaut, and back to his roots as a leader in Goddard’s Sciences and Exploration Directorate.

“After learning he had pancreatic cancer more than a year ago, Piers’ optimistic take on life – well-known within the gates at Goddard – inspired people around the world. He spoke eloquently about his confidence in humanity’s ability to confront the challenges of climate change, even as he faced his own terminal diagnosis.

Piers Sellers served as Deputy Director of the Sciences and Exploration Directorate and Acting Director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA/GSFC. (NASA Image)

“Piers’ contributions to Earth science are beyond significant. His Simple Biosphere Model was the first to realistically simulate the interaction of global photosynthesis and Earth’s climate.

The focus of research throughout his career, his first-author papers on biosphere-climate interactions have been cited thousands of times. He led major field campaigns, FIFE and BOREAS, that combined ground, airborne, and satellite measurements at an unprecedented scale.

He was the first project scientist of the Terra mission, which remains healthy in orbit today, 17 years after launch.

He joined the NASA astronaut corps in 1996 and flew to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2002, 2006, and 2010, carrying out six spacewalks and working on ISS assembly tasks. (NASA Image)

“When the opportunity arose, Piers made good on a childhood dream and was accepted to NASA’s astronaut corps. On missions STS-112, 121, and 132, he helped complete construction of the International Space Station, and gained the perspective of seeing Earth from space that he would talk about for years to come.

“In 2011, we at Goddard were fortunate that Piers chose to return to help lead the Sciences and Exploration Directorate and Earth Sciences Division.

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With wit and humor, and yet a razor-sharp focus on the task at hand, Piers has helped energize Earth science at Goddard in recent years.

“We remember Piers as an exceptional scientist and leader, but most importantly as an inspiring human being. He could make you think anything was possible, was always up for the adventure, and would remind you along the way how lucky we are to do the work we do here at Goddard.”

Piers Sellers joined the NASA astronaut corps in 1996 and flew to the International Space Station in 2002, 2006 and 2010, performing six spacewalks and various space station assembly tasks. As STS-112 mission specialist, Sellers is pictured above on the aft flight deck of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2002. (NASA Image)


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