New NASA director takes oath on Carl Sagan’s book instead of Bible

Makenzie Lystrup has become the first woman in NASA's history to head the Goddard Space Flight Centre

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New NASA director takes oath on Carl Sagan’s book instead of Bible.—Twitter@aussiastronomer
New NASA director takes oath on Carl Sagan’s book instead of Bible.—Twitter@aussiastronomer

A newly appointed top NASA official Makenzie Lystrup took an unconventional oath to assume charge of her duties.

Rather than swearing an oath on the Bible, Makenzie Lystrup took her oath on a copy of renowned astrophysicist and philosopher Carl Sagan’s book 'Pale Blue Dot'.

Although the tradition of swearing oaths on other books than the Bible is not new in the US as people have chosen books by Dr Suess, the US Constitution, Holy Quran and other documents to swear upon, this is the first instance where someone chose to swear upon 'The Pale Blue Dot.'

Published in 1994, “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space” is inspired by the famous Pale Blue Dot photograph of Earth taken by the Voyager 1 space probe in 1990 from a distance of about six billion kilometres.

Dr Lystrup said: “I’m humbled and honoured to lead such an amazing and diverse world-renowned team.”

She added, “To build upon our legacy, I’m keenly focused on growing the next generation of innovators along with ensuring our team has the resources and tools to advance technologies and make discoveries that boost the space economy and benefit us all.”

Located in Maryland, Goddard Space Flight Center is one of Nasa’s largest field centres. The centre consists of over 10,000 employees, both civil servants and contractors.

NASA pointed out that the centre is responsible for the oversight and execution of a $4bn portfolio. The centre is also home to the US’s largest concentration of scientists, engineers and technologists dedicated to Earth and space science.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said, “Makenzie is a natural leader, bringing to Goddard a scientist’s drive for discovery along with a wealth of industry experience and knowledge.”

“As centre director, she will lead a world-renowned team of scientists, engineers, and technologists focused on Earth and space science,” he said.

“Under her leadership, the Goddard workforce will continue to inspire, innovate, and explore the unknown for the benefit of all.”

Before joining Nasa, Dr Lystrup was vice president and general manager of civil space at Ball Aerospace, where she led contributions to several missions such as Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope, Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), Landsat 9 and the Roman Space Telescope.