Dr Colleen Hartman is an American astrophysicist who received her bachelor’s degree from Pomona College, a master’s degree in administration from USC, and a Ph.D. in physics from Catholic University in Washington DC.

As division director for NASA’s planetary missions in the early 2000s, Dr Hartman was instrumental in developing innovative approaches to powering space probes and their instruments destined for the Solar System’s farthest reaches, including in-space and nuclear propulsion and power. She spearheaded the process for choosing the New Horizons flyby probe to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. She also gained congressional and administration approval for an entirely new class of funded, competitively selected missions called “New Frontiers” to explore the planets, asteroids, and comets in the Solar System.

As Science Director at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Dr Hartman oversaw the science efforts on the iconic Hubble Space Telescope and newly launched James Webb Space Telescope. As NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for science in the mid-2000s, Dr Hartman helped energize international space science efforts during a time of diminishing budgets. While working at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for several years before returning to NASA, Dr Hartman provided vital guidance to NOAA when weather satellite development experienced significant setbacks.

Dr Hartman began her government career as a Presidential Management Intern, working on Capitol Hill, as a senior engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, a senior policy analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and as Deputy Director for Technology at NASA Headquarters. In the 1980s and 1990s, she built and launched NASA scientific balloon payloads, improved algorithms for robotic vision, and oversaw the development of the command and data handling systems for various Earth-observing spacecraft. She then served as NASA manager for dozens of missions, including the most successful of which was the Cosmic Microwave Background Explorer (COBE). Data from the COBE spacecraft gained two NASA-sponsored scientists the Nobel Prize in physics in 2006. In addition, Dr Hartman was awarded the Women in Aerospace award for her dedication to mentoring and guiding the next generation of space explorers.

After nearly forty years and two Presidential Rank awards for her government service (the highest award in the administration), Dr Hartman left NASA to lead space science, physics, and aeronautics activities at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington DC. She is now Director for Space, Physics, and Aeronautics at the National Academy of Sciences, providing independent, fact-based advice to the Nation.