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I started work at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in November 1990. Not counting the two years I spent as a postdoc, it was my first job, and it lasted seven years.

Looking back, the 1990s were perhaps an anomalous period in NASA’s history. Space shuttles flew 63 missions during the decade and assembly of the International Space Station began in 1998. But it was NASA’s unmanned scientific missions that, in my view, characterized the space agency in the decade of Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, and Jiang Zemin.

The Cosmic Background Explorer measured the spectrum and spatial distribution of the cosmic microwave background with unprecedented accuracy. That coup de recherche ushered in a new era of precision cosmology and earned Nobel Prizes in 2006 for COBE‘s two principal investigators, John Mather and George Smoot.

From 1990 through 2000, the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory mapped and characterized the high-energy cosmos. Its instruments discovered hundreds of new sources. Data from CGRO proved that gamma-ray bursts originate at vast distances outside our galaxy and therefore release more explosive energy than any other phenomenon in the universe.

Barring the losses of Mars Observer due, most likely, to a fuel-tank explosion and Mars Climate Orbiter due, embarrassingly, to the inconsistent use of Imperial and metric units, NASA’s planetary probes also had a good decade. Launched in 1989, Galileo arrived at Jupiter in 1995 and spent the next seven years studying the gas giant and its moons. Mars Global Surveyor mapped the red planet’s surface, revealing features that looked as though they’d been formed by the action of liquid water.

- See more at: http://blogs.physicstoday.org/thedayside/2013/08/lets-go-to-mars/#sthash.4U2OePyz.dpuf

I started work at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in November 1990. Not counting the two years I spent as a postdoc, it was my first job, and it lasted seven years.

Looking back, the 1990s were perhaps an anomalous period in NASA’s history. Space shuttles flew 63 missions during the decade and assembly of the International Space Station began in 1998. But it was NASA’s unmanned scientific missions that, in my view, characterized the space agency in the decade of Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, and Jiang Zemin.

The Cosmic Background Explorer measured the spectrum and spatial distribution of the cosmic microwave background with unprecedented accuracy. That coup de recherche ushered in a new era of precision cosmology and earned Nobel Prizes in 2006 for COBE‘s two principal investigators, John Mather and George Smoot.

From 1990 through 2000, the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory mapped and characterized the high-energy cosmos. Its instruments discovered hundreds of new sources. Data from CGRO proved that gamma-ray bursts originate at vast distances outside our galaxy and therefore release more explosive energy than any other phenomenon in the universe.

Barring the losses of Mars Observer due, most likely, to a fuel-tank explosion and Mars Climate Orbiter due, embarrassingly, to the inconsistent use of Imperial and metric units, NASA’s planetary probes also had a good decade. Launched in 1989, Galileo arrived at Jupiter in 1995 and spent the next seven years studying the gas giant and its moons. Mars Global Surveyor mapped the red planet’s surface, revealing features that looked as though they’d been formed by the action of liquid water.

I started work at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in November 1990. Not counting the two years I spent as a postdoc, it was my first job, and it lasted seven years.

Looking back, the 1990s were perhaps an anomalous period in NASA’s history. Space shuttles flew 63 missions during the decade and assembly of the International Space Station began in 1998. But it was NASA’s unmanned scientific missions that, in my view, characterized the space agency in the decade of Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, and Jiang Zemin.

The Cosmic Background Explorer measured the spectrum and spatial distribution of the cosmic microwave background with unprecedented accuracy. That coup de recherche ushered in a new era of precision cosmology and earned Nobel Prizes in 2006 for COBE‘s two principal investigators, John Mather and George Smoot.

From 1990 through 2000, the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory mapped and characterized the high-energy cosmos. Its instruments discovered hundreds of new sources. Data from CGRO proved that gamma-ray bursts originate at vast distances outside our galaxy and therefore release more explosive energy than any other phenomenon in the universe.

Barring the losses of Mars Observer due, most likely, to a fuel-tank explosion and Mars Climate Orbiter due, embarrassingly, to the inconsistent use of Imperial and metric units, NASA’s planetary probes also had a good decade. Launched in 1989, Galileo arrived at Jupiter in 1995 and spent the next seven years studying the gas giant and its moons. Mars Global Surveyor mapped the red planet’s surface, revealing features that looked as though they’d been formed by the action of liquid water.

- See more at: http://blogs.physicstoday.org/thedayside/2013/08/lets-go-to-mars/#sthash.4U2OePyz.dpuf

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