Astrobiologist and Educator Jerry Soffen has died

By Keith Cowing
November 24, 2000
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Jerry Soffen Editor’s note: I was saddened to learn that Jerry died suddenly last night. I had frequent contact with Jerry over the past years as NASA’s Astrobiology program got off the ground. Jerry’s passion for the exploration of space was matched only by his passion for educating tomrrow’s space explorers. He was a true believer – and will be greatly missed.

Official bio: Dr. Gerald Soffen – Special Assistant to the Space Science Associate Administrator for Astrobiology- NASA Headquarters

Dr. Gerald Soffen has been assigned to shape the NASA plan for Astrobiology, the study of life in the universe. His task is to orchestrate this new Astrobiology program, involving NASA scientists and interested university scientists who are working in related fields.

Dr. Gerald A. Soffen is currently the Director of University Programs at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, MD. Formerly, Dr. Soffen was Associate Director for Program Planning in the Space and Earth Sciences Directorate at GSFC and the Senior Project Scientist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Earth Observing System.

Dr. Soffen has worked for NASA for over 30 years. He started at JPL and was currently involved in the early Mars missions. He went to Langley Research Center to assume the role of Project Scientist for the Viking Missions and led the scientific teams to the great success landing on Mars and the next year of data collection. In 1978, he became the Director of Life Sciences at NASA Headquarters at the beginning of the shuttle launch period. In 1983, he came to Goddard to help establish the Mission to Planet Earth program and served as the Project Scientist for the Earth Observing System at its beginning.

Dr. Soffen received his Ph.D. in Biology in 1961 at Princeton University, his M.S. from the University of Southern California, and A.B. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.