USRA hires Margaret Meixner to manage the Stratospheric Observatory for mission operations in infrared astronomy

COLUMBIA, Md. and WASHINGTON, April 13, 2020 / PRNewswire / – The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) today announced the appointment of Dr. Margaret Meixner to the position of Director of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), Science Mission Operations, effective April 13, 2020.

Margaret Meixner, Director of SOFIA Science Mission Operations

SOFIANASA’s largest airborne astronomical observatory in the world performs far-infrared observations that are unique and impossible to achieve at high altitude even with the largest and most advanced ground-based telescopes. It scientifically paves the way for the soon-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope, while filling a unique long-term scientific niche in the mid to far infrared.

As director of SOFIADr. Meixner will lead and manage the SOFIA Science Mission Operations. She will provide the scientific, technical, and management guidance for that SOFIA Team and work in partnership with the dueutches SOFIA Institute to Maximize Scientific Productivity and Impact of the Observatory. Dr. Meixner will work closely with NASA to ensure the success of SOFIA This keeps it at the forefront of research in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics and planetary research.

DR. Ghassem AsrarUSRA Senior Vice President of Science stated, “We are delighted to have Margaret on board. Her scientific and technical knowledge of observational and infrared astronomy science, as well as her management experience and community leadership skills complement our existing and talented team SOFIA move forward. We are excited to welcome Margaret to USRA as we continue to fulfill our mission to support the US space program in science, technology and education. ”

Before joining the Universities Space Research Association, Dr. Meixner at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), where she has held various management positions since 2002. She is currently a project scientist at James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and a former Instrument Division deputy former Webb Instrument team leader. She was promoted to Distinguished Astronomer, STScI in 2017 and has been Community Co-Chair of the Origins Space Telescope Science and Technology Definition Team since 2016. She is also a Principal Research Scientist at Johns Hopkins Universityand member of NASA’s Astrophysics Advisory Committee.

Dr. Meixner received several awards and honors and was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2015. She was recognized for her leadership role in infrared instruments for astronomy. Dr. Meixner also received the AURA (Science of Achievement Award) from the Association of Universities for Astronomical Research (AURA) in 2009 and the Annie Jump Cannon honorary award in 1994.

She received her BS degree in electrical engineering and mathematics from the in 1987 University of Maryland, College Parkand received her Masters and PhD degrees in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley.

About USRA

Founded in 1969 at the request of the US government under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a not-for-profit company founded to advance space-related science, technology and engineering. USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities and carries out other important research and education programs from federal funds. USRA is involved in the university community and deals with internal scientific leadership, innovative research and development, and project management know-how. You can find more information about USRA at

over SOFIA

SOFIA is an international partnership financed jointly by NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) administers SOFIA Science Mission Operations (SMO) for NASA Ames Research Center in support of NASA’s Astrophysics Department in the Directorate for Science Missions. SOFIA, a major airborne astronomical observatory, is scientifically paving the way for the soon-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope and at the same time filling a unique long-term scientific niche in the mid to far infrared.

PR contact:
Suraiya farukhi, Ph.D.
[email protected]

SOURCE Universities Space Research Association

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