On Monday the Milky Way galaxy lost one of its brightest stars in Katherine Johnson. She passed away at the age of 101.
Johnson is most known for her pioneering work at NASA as the trailblazing mathematician played by Taraji P. Henson in the blockbuster film “Hidden Figures.” Her career at NASA spanned more than 30 years, and she is widely known for her critical role in John Glenn’s orbital mission, Friendship 7.
During a time when NASA’s computers were prone to hiccups and blackouts, Glenn famously had Johnson manually run the same equations that were in the computers before lift-off. “If she says they’re good, then I’m ready to go,” he said.
Johnson was a staunch advocate for gender and racial equality, and became a beacon of hope for people of color and women in STEM fields. NASA commemorated her life on Twitter.
We’re saddened by the passing of celebrated #HiddenFigures mathematician Katherine Johnson. Today, we celebrate her 101 years of life and honor her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers: https://t.co/Tl3tsHAfYB pic.twitter.com/dGiGmEVvAW
— NASA (@NASA) February 24, 2020
Many on Twitter offered their sympathies, and reflected on Johnson’s legacy as a scientist whose work extended far beyond walls of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. The word cloud generated from the top trends in the online conversation shows a glimpse of the appreciation people had for Johnson and her work.
The hashtag #RestInPower was frequently used in tribute to her role as a civil rights pioneer. Today we offer our appreciation for Katherine Johnson and her determination to become a role model for so many.