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NASA Scientist Soffen Dies at 74

November 26, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Gerald Soffen, project scientist on NASA’s Viking missions to Mars, died Wednesday of a heart ailment. He was 74.

Soffen most recently was director of university programs at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, where he led the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s study of life in the universe through its astrobiology program.

Soffen began his career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where he managed the development of biological instruments.

In the mid-1970s, Soffen, as project scientist for the Viking missions to Mars, was responsible for the first successful scientific experiments performed on the surface of the planet. He directed a team of 70 scientists from across the nation to plan the mission, which concluded that no life was present on Mars.

From 1978 to 1983, he was NASA’s director of life sciences and was responsible for the medical well-being of its astronauts. He joined the Goddard center in 1983.

Survivors include his wife, Kazuko A. Soffen, and a sister, Nancy Guy of California.

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