NASA Woos Caltech Astronomer for Top Science Job

NASA officials have been hunting fruitlessly for a new space science chief since spring, when Wes Huntress announced he would leave the agency this fall after a 5-year stint in the job (Science, 27 February, p. 1293). But they are hoping they have found a successor in Charles Beichman, an infrared astronomer with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena.

Beichman directs a Caltech center that handles data from a number of NASA satellites carrying infrared instruments. He also has specialized in the search for planets outside the solar system, a favorite topic of Administrator Dan Goldin. NASA officials and Beichman declined comment, but sources close to the selection process say they hope to have him on board soon to run the $2-billion-a-year program. One person long familiar with Beichman noted that although he is not well known in the space science community, he is politically savvy.