RIP Piers

So very sad today to hear that astronaut and scientist Piers Sellers passed away this morning. A year ago in November, he announced that after thinking he had complications after gall bladder surgery, in fact he had learned that he had terminal pancreatic cancer. I can’t even imagine getting a sudden diagnosis like that, but his email about it was filled with humor about not having to worry about retirement. And instead of jetting off to cross things off a bucket list, he stayed and he worked, because that was what he cared about. About the earth, and protecting it. As an astronaut, he got to see it better than most, and like many of them, he knew how precious and rare our world is. There is nothing else like it within light years.

With Jasmin in 2015. The photo in back of them is him in space.

With Jasmin in 2015. The photo in back of them is him in space.

 

I didn’t know him well, but he was very kind in any interactions I had with him, including talking to a visiting family whose kids are very into science. (Their kids even dressed up like JWST and Hubble for Halloween!) And meeting with a British student (Jasmin!) who shadowed my co-worker and I for a week. He was so amazing about sharing his experiences with them, about what it was like to help build the space station. (Read Jasmin’s blog about this here.)

 

 

He left a big impression on both of the kids who visited us. 2014.

He left a big impression on both of the kids who visited us. 2014.

 

 

He was a tireless advocate for earth science – and he was a scientist himself. He worked at Goddard in the Bioscience branch as a climate scientist before he became an astronaut – and then he came back to lead it. Eventually he was high up, leading the Science and Exploration Directorate, leading both earth and space science efforts at Goddard.

This is such a big loss for our community and for the world at large. At least he really tried to make a difference during his time here. He truly was inspirational in every way.

 

 

Here is an interview he did relatively recently. It’s really excellent.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/piers-sellers-climate-change-astronaut-before-the-flood-btf/

RIP Piers, you will be greatly missed.

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