When Nancy Grace Roman was still a child, her favorite object to draw was the moon.
His mother used to take her for a walk under the night sky and show her constellations, or show a colorful circle of aurora. Roman likes to look at the stars and imagine.
Finally, his desire to observe stars developed into a career as a famous astronomer. Roman was one of the first female executives at NASA, where he served as the agency's first astronomy chief.
Known as "Mother of Hubble," because of its role in making the Hubble Space Telescope a reality, Roman worked at NASA for almost two decades. He died on December 25 at the age of 93 years.
Roman struggled to get his place in a field dominated by men, paving the way for future female scientists. He was born in Nashville, Tenn. In 1925 and organized an astronomy club in the fifth grade. He attended secondary school in Baltimore, where he asked to take the second year of algebra, not the fifth year of Latin.
When he appealed, he recounted in an interview in 2017 with NPR that the guidance counselor did not support his dream of becoming a scientist.
"He looked down at me and mocked. Which woman took mathematics instead of Latin?"
Roman went on to get a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in 1946 and a doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1949, both in astronomy. After working at the Naval Research Laboratory, he later joined NASA in 1959.
"NASA was six months old and it was the right place to work at that time," Roman said in an interview in 2017. "Everyone is gung ho."
From the beginning, Roman promoted space-based astronomy, where space-based instrumentation was not like traditional land-based astronomical equipment, such as telescopes. The reason behind this push is that looking through the Earth's atmosphere obscures or reduces the quality of observation.
But convincing astronomers on land that space astronomy is worth it is not easy, according to David DeVorkin, senior curator of the National Air and Space Museum.
"He has a very, very egalitarian view of how to make space astronomy a part of astronomy and I think that is a very important inheritance," he said.
His efforts helped direct the creation of the Hubble Space Telescope. In his role at NASA, Roman developed and planned the Hubble Space Telescope, which is famous for its amazing space images.
Because of the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have been able to collect data and gain insight into even the most remote galaxies in the universe. The success of this project led to future space telescopes.
Roman works, however, reach far beyond just the Hubble Space Telescope. In an interview with NASA, Roman once stated that one of the most important things in his career was when he discovered the first indication that ordinary stars were not all of the same age.
Roman retired from NASA in 1979, but his work earned him the Women in Aerospace Lifetime Achievement Award and the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award. He was given a special honor last year when he was highlighted in a Lego set of four innovative women at NASA.
In the Lego set, the statue stands next to a miniature Hubble Space Telescope – a replica of an instrument that brings the world of dazzling images of stars he loves as a child.