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‘Human Computer’ Katherine Johnson passes away at 101

Virginia, Feb 25 (GCCurrentAffairs) NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, also known as the ‘human computer’ for her instrumental role in getting the first Americans to space and back safely and the inspiration for the film ‘Hidden Figures’, has passed away here.
She was 101. NASA announced Johnson’s death on Monday.
Born in West Virginia, in 1918, Johnson had a knack for solving highly complex mathematical problems in no time since a very early age.
Later on she went on to become a part of NASA’s “Computer Pool,” a group of mathematicians whose data powered NASA’s first successful space missions. The group’s success largely hinged on the accomplishments of its black women members. Among her many accomplishments, she completed the trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s 1961 suborbital flight, which was the first time the US sent a human into space.
Johnson’s work over 33 years propelled many of America’s breakthroughs in space exploration, including Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” on the Moon. But the contributions she made weren’t recognized until decades later.
However, her groundbreaking contributions were recognised in 2015 when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed on civilians, from President Barack Obama. The bestselling-book-turned-Oscar-nominated-movie Hidden Figures brought Johnson’s legacy to the big screen in 2016, in which she was portrayed by Taraji P Henson. NASA, where she worked from 1953 to 1986 also named a building in her honor in 2017.
‘NASA is deeply saddened by the loss of a leader from our pioneering days, and we send our deepest condolences to the family of Katherine Johnson. Ms Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color in the universal human quest to explore space. Her dedication and skill as a mathematician helped put humans on the moon and before that made it possible for our astronauts to take the first steps in space that we now follow on a journey to Mars. Her Presidential Medal of Freedom was a well-deserved recognition,’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement on Monday.
‘At NASA we will never forget her courage and leadership and the milestones we could not have reached without her. We will continue building on her legacy and work tirelessly to increase opportunities for everyone who has something to contribute toward the ongoing work of raising the bar of human potential,’ the statement added.

Via UNI-India

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