Dr. Heidi Hammel is an interdisciplinary scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), launched in 2021 to search for the first galaxies or luminous objects formed after the Big Bang.

Why you should listen

As a planetary astronomer, Heidi Hammel has studied our Solar System's outer planets, and their rings and moons, with equipment including the Gemini Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope and will now continue her work with the JWST. She is the Vice President for Science at AURA, a consortium that operates large astronomical observatories such as Hubble and Gemini. She has studied Uranus and Neptune extensively, and she worked on the imaging team for Voyager 2’s Neptune encounter in 1989, humanity’s closest approach to the farthest known planet.

The recipient of the Sagan Medal and the Public Understanding of Science Award from the San Francisco Exploratorium, Hammel has been recognized for both her science and her work in public outreach. In 2020, she received the Masursky Award for outstanding service to planetary science and exploration from the American Astronomical Society. An asteroid orbiting the Sun in the area between Mars and Jupiter, 1981 EC20, was renamed 3530 Hammel in her honor.

Heidi Hammel’s TED talk

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TEDWomen Presents: Women leading the future, with Heidi Hammel and Nadia Drake

October 27, 2022

Nothing says “future” quite like humanity’s quest to understand our cosmic surroundings. The fourth day of TEDWomen Presents — an online festival featuring interviews with leading women, interactive workshops, specially curated film screenings and more — focused on science and the future, with a conversation between astronomer Heidi Hammel and science journalist Nadia Drake. Big […]

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