Piers Sellers

Piers Sellers
Piers Sellers in 2002
Credit: NASA

Occupation: Astronaut, Meteorologist

Year born: 1955

Research Areas: Climate Science

 

"to make the changes that we need to make and to reach a safer future, we need the resources of everybody"

Source: Garan, R., YouTube, 2016

 

Early Life

Piers Sellers grew up in Sussex, UK. He watched the Apollo 11 Moon landing when he was 13 and decided he wanted to be an astronaut. He volunteered as a Royal Air Force cadet during school and learned to pilot planes and gliders. Piers studied Ecological Science (the interaction between nature and organisms) at the University of Edinburgh and went on to get a PhD in Meteorology (studying the atmosphere and weather) from the University of Leeds.

Career Highlights

Piers was interested in biometeorology. This the study of how the weather impacts our environment. Including its effect on animals, plants, and humans. Piers and his family moved to the USA in 1982 where he worked as a research meteorologist at the NASA Goddard Flight Center. At NASA, Piers used computer models to research climate science.

Piers applied to the astronaut training program every year, but his lack of US citizenship was a problem. In 1991, Piers became a US citizen. In 1996 Piers was selected to be an astronaut. After two years of training, and a lot of patience, Piers got to go to space. He flew to the International Space Station three times and carried out six spacewalks to help build and maintain the space station.

Piers was also the Director of the Earth Science Division at NASA. In this job, Piers oversaw what research was carried out and the design of space missions to learn more about the Earth and climate. Piers was passionate about protecting our Earth and vocal about the impact of climate change on our environment. Leonardo DiCaprio interviewed Piers in 2016 for the documentary Before the Flood, all about global warming.

Legacy

Piers was appointed OBE for services to science and in June 2016 received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. The Priestley International Centre of Climate at the University of Leeds awards the Piers Sellers Prize in his honour.

In 2013 the NSO took students from the Bohunt School and Lawn Primary School to interview Piers at the Royal Astronomical Society in London: