May 18, 1908–April 15, 1997
BY WILLIAM A. BAUM
RICHARD TOUSEY WAS THE leading pioneer in solar research from space. Using a V-2 rocket in 1946, he and his collaborators at the Naval Research Laboratory were the first to record the spectrum of the Sun in the ultraviolet, which is blocked from reaching instruments on Earth’s surface (or even on the highest balloons) by gases in Earth’s atmosphere. This solar spectrum was, in fact, the very first astronomical observation to be made successfully from above Earth’s atmosphere, and it marked the dawn of the space age. Using rockets and Earth-orbiting spacecraft, Tousey devoted the next three decades to increasingly sophisticated studies of the Sun and Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in a number of important firsts. In private life, Tousey was interested in baroque music, harpsichords, hiking, sailing, and bird watching. He was a soft-spoken person with a probing mind and a strong sense of purpose.
Richard Tousey was born on May 18, 1908, in Somerville, Massachusetts, the son of Coleman and Adella Hill Tousey. From the time he was a child Richard had a great fondness for nature and the outdoors, where he liked to hike and where he developed a lifelong interest in ornithology. His family usually spent summers on the Atlantic coast, first