Robert Jastrow (September 7, 1925 – February 8, 2008) was an American astronomer, physicist and cosmologist. Dr. Jastrow attended Townsend Harris High School and graduated in 1941. He then went on to attend Columbia University for college and graduate school, where he received his A.B., A.M. and Ph.D. in theoretical physics, in 1948. Afterwards he joined NASA when it was formed in 1958.
He was the first chairman of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Committee, which established the scientific goals for the exploration of the moon during the Apollo lunar landings. At the same time he was also the
Chief of the Theoretical Division at NASA (1958–61). He became the founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in 1961, and served until his retirement from NASA in 1981. Concurrently he was also a Professor of Geophysics at Columbia University.
After his NASA career he became a Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College (1981–1992), and was a Member of the NASA Alumni Association. Jastrow was also a Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the George C. Marshall Institute, and Director Emeritus of Mount Wilson Observatory and Hale Solar Laboratory.
Dr. Jastrow was the recipient of many awards, including the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, the Arthur S. Fleming Award for Outstanding Service in the U.S. Government, the Columbia University Medal of Excellence, the Columbia Graduate Facilities Award to Distinguished Alumni and a Doctor of Science degree (honorary) from Manhattan College. He hosted more than 100 CBS-TV network programs on space science.
- Red Giants and White Dwarfs (1967)
- Astronomy: Fundamentals & Frontiers (1972)
- God And The Astronomers (1978)
- The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe (1981)
- Journey to the Stars: Space Exploration—Tomorrow and Beyond (1990)
“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” -Dr. Robert Jastrow