Mary L. Cleave, Ph.D., P.E., is an environmental engineer who retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as the Associate Administrator for Science in 2007. In that capacity, she was responsible for numerous spacecraft exploring space from the edge of our Solar System to the Sun’s orbit. She is currently serving on corporate boards and advisory committees in both for profit and not for profit sectors.
Dr. Cleave previously served as Deputy Associate Administrator for Earth Science at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1991 she joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., where she worked as the project manager for SeaWiFS, Sea-viewing, Wide-Field-of-view-Sensor. She managed the project during the development and early operational phase. The project goal of SeaWiFS was to provide global measurements of all of the Chlorophyll a on Earth every 48 hours. The spacecraft launched in August 1997 and operated successfully for 13 years. The data from the spacecraft helped increase understanding of climate change, oceanography, and atmospheric science.
Dr. Cleave flew on the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist. She was the flight engineer and operated the robot arm on the Space Shuttle in 1985 and deployed the Magellan spacecraft from the Shuttle in 1989. Magellan went on to study Venus. She also served in a range of technical and engineering capacities supporting the shuttle program, including CAPCOM (capsule communicator) for five shuttle flights.
Before joining NASA, Dr. Cleave worked as a research engineer at the Utah Water Research Laboratory and earned a Ph. D. in Environmental Engineering and a M.S. in Microbial Ecology at Utah State University and a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Colorado State University. She is a licensed engineer in the State of Maryland.
Dr. Cleave is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award, 1989; NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, 1994; Friend of Mongolia, 1995; and NASA Engineer of the Year, 1998. She is a member of Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi, the Association of Space Explorers and the Explorers Club.