NASA announced today Dr. Steven J. Dick is the new
Director, History Office, and Chief Historian. He will assume
his duties at NASA 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 (1971), Master of Arts and
Ph.D. (1977) 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-known 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. Dick
served as the first Historian of the Naval Observatory, and
has most recently been the Acting Chief of its Nautical
Almanac Office.

Dick served on the panel to examine the societal implications
of possible life in the Mars rock. He received the NASA Group
Achievement Award, “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 is on the Editorial Board of several journals, including
the Journal for the History of Astronomy, and is an associate
editor of the International Journal of Astrobiology. He was
Chairman of the Historical Astronomy Division of the American
Astronomical Society (1993-1994) and President of the History
of Astronomy Commission of the International Astronomical
Union (1997-2000). He is President-elect of the Philosophical
Society of Washington.

Dick has authored more than 100 publications, including:
Plurality of Worlds: The Origins of the Extraterrestrial Life
Debate from Democritus to Kant (Cambridge University Press,
1982); The Biological Universe: The Twentieth Century
Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science
(Cambridge University Press, 1996); and Life on Other Worlds
(1998), the latter translated into four languages. He was also
editor of Many Worlds: The New Universe, Extraterrestrial Life
and the Theological Implications (2000).

His history of the Naval Observatory, Sky and Ocean Joined:
The U. S. Naval Observatory, 1830-2000 (Cambridge University
Press, 2002), 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: NASA and the Development of Astrobiology (Rutgers
University Press).

Dick and his wife Terry live in Herndon, Va. They are the
parents of two sons, one a Scripps Institute of Oceanography
graduate student, and another who is a student at the
University of Virginia.

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