Obituaries

Ronald A. Parise; Astronomer Studied From Space Shuttles

Ronald A. Parise flew on the shuttles Columbia in December 1990 and Endeavour in March 1995.
Ronald A. Parise flew on the shuttles Columbia in December 1990 and Endeavour in March 1995. (Family - Family)
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ronald A. Parise, 56, an astronomer who flew on two space shuttle missions to study high-energy ultraviolet radiation from deep space, died May 9 at his home in Silver Spring. He had brain cancer.

Dr. Parise, a senior scientist with the space agency contractor Computer Sciences, was among the first non-space agency shuttle passengers since the 1986 Challenger explosion.

As a payload specialist, he flew on the shuttles Columbia in December 1990 and Endeavour in March 1995 to help operate the Astro observatory, which consisted of three ultraviolet telescopes. He had helped develop the electronic system and flight hardware for the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope.

Frank H. Bauer, a NASA engineer who worked on the Astro mission and now is chief engineer for exploration, said the two flights helped scientists understand how galaxies and other celestial objects coalesce and form to create stars.

Dr. Parise spent more than 615 hours in space, and his honors included two awards of the NASA Space Flight Medal.

After the space flights, he continued working at Computer Sciences on avionics and communications engineering, in particular the use of Internet communications in space through radio transmitters and receivers.

Ronald Anthony Parise was a native of Warren, Ohio, and a 1973 physics graduate of Youngstown State University. In the late 1970s, he received master's and doctorate degrees in astronomy from the University of Florida.

An amateur radio operator, he talked to hundreds of ham operators and schoolchildren during his space flights, as part of his larger interest in encouraging careers in science. He also was a licensed scuba diver and pilot.

He was a member of Resurrection Catholic Church in Burtonsville and Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Washington.

Survivors include his wife of 34 years, Cecelia Sokol Parise of Silver Spring; two children, Air Force 1st Lt. Nicholas A. Parise of Charleston, S.C., and Katherine E. Parise of Silver Spring; his parents, Henry J. and Cathryn A. Parise, of Warren; and a sister.

-- Adam Bernstein


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