Report: Paul Hertz to Step Down as NASA’s Astrophysics Lead, Transition to New Role

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Paul Hertz
Paul Hertz, director of NASA Astrophysics Division

Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, intends to pursue another position within the space agency after he departs his current role at the end of 2021, SpaceNews reported Tuesday.

The two-decade NASA veteran told attendees at an American Astronomical Society meeting Monday that he has not determined yet what “challenge” to pursue next and expects his successor to implement recommendations from the Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine noted on its website that the Astro2020 steering committee aims to deliver the report to the agency this spring.

Hertz said the agency is exploring “what-if” scenarios in preparation for the release of the report.

NASA appointed Hertz to lead the astrophysics division in March 2012 and lead research programs and missions delving into the origins of the universe and how it developed its current disposition.

He joined the agency in 2000 as a senior scientist in the space science office and later assumed the chief scientist post within the science mission directorate.