(IN MEMORIAM, 1955 - 2016)

Former Director of the Earth Science Division at NASA

Meteorologist and Astronaut


Piers Sellers, PhD, was a British-born climate scientist for NASA who remained optimistic about the fate of the Earth despite the grim climate change models he oversaw, and who gained American citizenship to fulfill a childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.  Piers served as branch chief for the NASA International Space Station (ISS) Operations Branch of the Astronaut Office and as an EVA (Extravehicular Activities / spacewalks) instructor.  A veteran of three space flights, Piers logged a total of over 34 days, 23 hours in space, including six spacewalks.


Throughout his career, Sellers focused on characterizing and understanding changes in the Earth’s climate system.  He was particularly interested in interactions between the Earth’s biosphere — its life — and the atmosphere.  Before joining the astronaut corps, Piers worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC) on research into how the Earth’s Biosphere and Atmosphere interact.  His work involved computer modeling of the climate system, satellite remote sensing studies and field work utilizing aircraft, satellites and ground teams in places such as Kansas, Russia, Africa, Canada and Brazil.


Dr. Sellers was awarded several honors, including the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award (1994), the Arthur S. Flemming Award (1995), Fellowship of the American Geophysical Union (1996), the Houghton Award of the American Meteorological Society (1997), Fellowship of the American Meteorological Society (1997), and as an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) for services to science (January 2011).

Sellers earned his PhD in Biometeorology in 1981 from Leeds University, United Kingdom.