Barbara J. Thompson
As a NASA astrophysicist, Barbara Thompson has had the opportunity to work as a scientist, data analyst, mission designer, instrument builder, and spokesperson for NASA research. Occasionally, she performs all of these roles in a single day. She has appeared in scores of television programs and newspaper articles, and makes frequent appearances to help educate the public about the importance of the scientific exploration of space. She is currently director of operations for the International Heliophysical Year 2007, and is working on the Solar Dynamics Observatory with the "Living with a Star" initiative. This initiative will focus on the study of the turbulent sun's impact on Earth and the science behind "space weather."
Still an unrepentant feminist, she has enjoyed working in a field of research that embraces a mix of tradition and the unconventional.
She has served on several mission design teams, authored nearly 200 papers, and has spent weeks in the desert launching rocket experiments with her colleagues. Her newest interest is the development of space for commercial travel and she is working with organizations such as the Space Frontier Foundation to do her small part in bringing about the "real" Space Age.