Norman F. Ness

norman ness

April 15, 1933 ~ December 4, 2023

Born in: Springfield, MA
Resided in: Venice, FL

Norman Frederick Ness, 90, passed away at his home in Venice, FL on December 4, 2023. He was born April 15, 1933, in Springfield, MA to the late Herman Hugo and Eva Carlson Ness. Norman grew up in Meriden, CT. After high school, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree (Geophysics) in 1955 and a Doctorate in Geophysics in 1959.

He became involved in the scientific exploration of space by joining the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1960 as a National Academy of Sciences – Postdoctoral Resident Research Associate at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). In 1961, Norman joined an experimental program of magnetic field studies with satellites and space probes. He was principal investigator for the magnetometer studies on the IMP series of 10 satellites launched between 1962 – 1973. He was responsible for the conception and scientific direction of the lunar orbiting Explorer 35, an adjunct of the IMP series, which provided invaluable reference data for subsequent studies of the moon in the Apollo program with its more than 5 years of continuous measurements of the magnetic field in the lunar environment. In the 70’s, he participated in the USA program of planetary exploration, and joined in the studies of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter. Later in the 70’s, his experiments for the first time, went to Saturn where they discovered and studied the magnetic field in 1979 on Pioneer 11 and again on Voyagers 1 and 2 in 1980 and 1981. In 1986 his experiment on Voyager 2 discovered a magnetic field at Uranus and in 1989 the global magnetic field of Neptune. From 1966 to 1986, he was Chief of the Laboratory of Extraterrestrial Physics, initiating and supervising research activities in solar system plasma physics, planetary atmospheres and infrared and radio astronomy. In 1987, he left NASA and became President of the Bartol Research Institute at the University of Delaware retiring in 2005.

Norman is recognized as one of the world’s experts in the conduct of magnetic field investigations from unmanned satellites. He has lectured widely throughout the United States and internationally. Over his career, he has received numerous awards. He received the John A. Fleming Medal of the American Geophysical Union in 1965 in recognition of his work in the description of the electricity and magnetism of the earth and its atmosphere. He also received the 1965 NASA medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in the conduct of interplanetary research studies. In 1968, he was selected as a recipient of the Arthur S. Flemming Award as one of the 10 outstanding young men in Federal service. He received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Science Award in 1972. He received the GSFC Lindsay Memorial Award in 1975, a 2nd NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 1981, a third in 1986, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1986. In 1983, he was nominated and elected to the National Academy of Science. He received the German Geophysical Society 1992 Award and the U.S. National Space Club Science Award in 1993.

Norman was very passionate about sailing, both racing and cruising, locally and internationally. He was a coach for the U.S. Naval Academy Sailing Squadron in Annapolis, MD.

Norman is survived by his wife of 52 years, Miroslava Jurancic Ness; his former wife, Amelia Mercaldi Roberts, his children Elizabeth Ness and Stephen (Melanie) Ness; four grandchildren Anthony Ness, Vincent (Maggie) Ness, Stephanie Hammel, and Sabrina Ness; and eight great-grandchildren Lorelai and Joseph Ness, Maranatha, Maximus, Alethea and Xavier Ness, and Eliana and Dominic Hammel.

Interment will be at Gethsemane Cemetery in Meriden, CT. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. Donations can be made to the Eva Carlson Ness Scholarship Endowment at the University of Maryland School of Nursing (<>). Arrangements in the care of Beecher & Bennett-Flatow Funeral Home, Meriden, CT.

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  1. Our condolences to the Ness family. Norman was a good friend to the Meriden Historical Society.

  2. Steve , Elisabeth and family so sorry to hear about the passing of your dad. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

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