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Paul Lowman, Goddard pioneer, remembered

November 17, 2011 2 comments
Paul D. Lowman, pioneering NASA geologist

Paul D. Lowman, pioneering NASA geologist

Last week, friends and colleagues of pioneering NASA geologist Paul D. Lowman, Jr. (1931-2011) gathered at Goddard Space Flight Center to share stories and celebrate their friend’s life and career. Lowman died September 29, just 3 days after his 80th birthday. He had worked at Goddard Space Flight Center since 1959, frequently commuting to the Center from his nearby home in Bowie, Md., on a yellow bicycle.

Lowman was a member of Goddard’s Apollo generation. He was one of the NASA scientists that helped select geological activities to perform on the moon, a body whose nature and origin were poorly understood in those days.

One new thing I learned about Lowman at the remembrance event is that he was the first geologist NASA hired. Also, he helped train Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts to take photographs of geological Earth terrain from space. That had never been done before, and remains Lowman’s major claim to fame.

If you’re curious, read more about Lowman in an informative 2007 feature story by Goddard’s Rob Garner. I asked Rob, currently a member of the Goddard Office of Communications web team, to recall the interview experience:

“I was barely out of college, and I’d been at Goddard less than five months when I was assigned to interview Dr. Lowman, whose NASA tenure surpassed my own by more than 100 times.  I was downright terrified. That all evaporated the minute I sat down in his office.  Paul was affable, jovial, and he had a marvelous sense of humor.  He had me on the edge of my seat the entire time we spoke. Seeing him pedaling around the center on his banana-yellow bicycle from time to time in the years following our chat never failed to make me smile. The NASA constellation shines a bit dimmer with him gone.”

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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