CEDAR email: Passing of Dr. Robert A Hoffman

Astrid Maute maute at ucar.edu
Mon Oct 31 07:19:28 MDT 2022

Passing of Dr. Robert A Hoffman

It is with deep regret that we report that Dr. Robert (Bob) A. Hoffman, 89,
passed away on Oct 23, 2022.

Bob received his B.S. degree in physics from St. Mary’s College in Winona,
Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Minnesota in
1962.  His thesis, which was written under J. R. Winckler, involved
instrumentation and data analysis on Explorer 6.  Bob joined Goddard Space
Flight Center in late 1961 on a National Academy of Sciences Associateship
before becoming a Civil Servant.  His primary interests were experimental
investigations of the Earth’s ring current, auroral acceleration and
precipitation, auroral electrodynamics and magnetosphere-ionosphere

Bob was a leader in every sense of the word. During his tenure at NASA, he
served as the principal investigator for instrumentation on a number of
flight projects, beginning with OGO-2, and he also served as project
scientist for Explorer 45, Dynamics Explorer and Pegsat.  In 1989, he
assumed direction of the Goddard chemical release program.  He was the
project scientist for the Polar mission of the International Solar
Terrestrial Physics Program as well as the Goddard Lead Definition
Scientist for Geospace for the Living with a Star Program and the Radiation
Belt Storm Probes mission at the time of his retirement in January 2003.

Bob was exceptional at what he did. His work was recognized by NASA, and he
received many awards and accolades including the Medal of Exceptional
Scientific Achievement and the Exceptional Service Medal. He was also
awarded the Exceptional Performance Award and Outstanding Leadership Award
by Goddard.

Bob and his beloved wife Barbara honeymooned at Cocoa Beach in Florida—a
trip that mixed business with a whole lot of pleasure.  The trip coincided
with one of NASA’s first satellite missions and when asked about the trip,
Bob would smile and respond, “It’s classified.” At one point, Bob and his
brother John Hoffman of the University of Texas at Dallas had instruments
on the same mission. This marked one of the only times that a pair of
siblings have flown their own instruments on the same mission.

Despite all of his work, commitments and leadership efforts, Bob always
made time to mentor students and support those early in their career.  In
fact, many of the current leaders in our community got their start with
Bob’s help.  His impact on our community cannot be overstated and anyone
working on a science traceability matrix should stop for a minute and thank
Bob for promoting this tool.

Bob is survived by his two children, Cindy and David, and their families.
He also leaves behind a community that will forever love him and owes him
much. Bob will be deeply missed and all who knew him will be forever
grateful for the time they got to spend with him.

Jesper Gjerloev

Nicky Fox

Barbara Giles

Rob Pfaff
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