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CXC Biographies: Dr. Anne Kinney
Director, Astronomy and Physics Division, NASA
Anne Kinney
Photo Credit:
Paul Hayward

Anne Kinney’s broad experience in astronomy, from promoting astronomy to the public to working as a Hubble Space Telescope instrument scientist, serves as the background for her job as Director of the Astronomy and Physics Division.

Her main challenges are to get the Next Generation Space Telescope and the Space Interferometry Mission launched and to interact with the astronomical community to keep informed of the latest science.

"Astronomy and Physics has spectacular new projects, and one of my duties is to keep them on track and on budget so that they actually fly," Kinney says. "By working closely with astronomers, I will seek out cutting-edge technologies and advocate new missions that will help deepen our understanding of the universe."

Another special role for Kinney is continuing her public outreach efforts.

"I want to cultivate an active relationship with the American public to bring science to people who pay for it," she explains.

Working at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., for 14 years has given her the skills to efficiently perform her science program director duties.

As an instrument scientist for the Hubble telescope’s Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS), Kinney learned the complexities of a spacecraft. She also saw the Hubble telescope before it was launched.

"I was testing the FOS camera at Lockheed Martin," Kinney recalls. "The four-story-tall telescope loomed above me, all covered in its shiny Mylar. Because of that experience, I have a real affection for the telescope and an appreciation for other spacecraft in the Astronomy and Physics program."

Kinney also worked in the institute’s Office of Public Outreach, leading the education department and offering her expertise as a guest commentator on NASA’s Space Science Updates (SSUs). She also is a co-investigator for the Hubble Heritage Project.

Among the 17 SSUs in which Kinney participated, her most memorable were the programs on debris striking the inner ring of Supernova 1987A and the dynamic weather on Mars. After the Mars SSU, Kinney reported on Mars’s weather patterns for a Washington, D.C., television station.

Kinney has written 75 scientific papers, including one on an atlas of galaxy spectra taken in ultraviolet light. The paper was produced at a time when astronomers didn’t have an overall picture of how galaxies looked in the ultraviolet. Kinney’s data are important to understand the populations of stars in the galaxies and eventually to comprehend the relationship between galaxies of different types.

Kinney serves on the editorial board of Astronomy Magazine and is an American Astronomical Society council member. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of Wisconsin in 1975 and a doctorate in astrophysics from New York University in 1984.

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