Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Karen M Smale

(Web Editor in Chief)

Karen M Smale's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.286.7612
Org Code: 606.1
Mail Code 606.1
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Karen is the SED Web Editor in Chief, managing the Code 600 organization website development team (which is awesome!) and helping to improve the overall web presence of Code 600's websites by shaping policy and assisting web developers across the Directorate. She is co-organizer of the Web Common Interest Group, which holds monthly meetings for web developers, and she serves on several Web-related committees at the GSFC and NASA level.

Prior to her current position, Karen was the webmaster for the HEASARC (High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center), LHEA (Lab. for High Energy Astrophysics), and then ASD (Astrophysics Science Division) and several project sites. In addition, she developed graphics for public outreach for the HEASARC and the Astrophysics Sciences Division. She designed the first 13 Imagine the Universe CD-ROMs, half a dozen outreach posters, and many mission displays and materials. Throughout this period, Karen provided peer review coordination and technical support for the ROSAT, ASCA, RXTE, GALEX, Fermi, Suzaku, and Swift missions.

In her first 5 years at Goddard, Karen was a solar forecaster for the Solar Maximum Mission and then moved to the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics, where she was a mission planner for the Broad Band X-ray Telescope, which flew on the Space Shuttle in December 1990. After that, she joined the newly-created HEASARC where she supported scientists analyzing data from the ROSAT and ASCA x-ray missions. She also edited the HEASARC journal, Legacy, and the ROSAT and ASCA Newsletters.

Current Projects

Sciences and Exploration Directorate Website

Working with a team of developers to improve the functionality and user experience of the SED flagship website, The new site was released November 1, 2023. Refinements will continue.


SED Web Editor-in-Chief


August 2008 - Present

Responsible for the Science website, among others.

Astrophysics Science Division Webmaster

SP Systems - NASA/GSFC

October 2000 - January 2009

HEASARC Webmaster

Hughes STX & Raytheon ITSS & SP Systems - NASA/GSFC

October 1995 - January 2009

HEASARC Support Scientist


1991 - 1995

BBXRT Mission Planner


March 1989 - January 1991

Solar Forecaster (SMM)


January 1987 - March 1989

Solar Observer

NOAA - Boulder, Colorado

December 1985 - December 1986


B.A. in Physics from the University of Colorado, 1986. (Includes an emphasis in astrophysical, planetary and atmospheric sciences)


  • Outstanding Achievement Award - ADNET (2020)
  • Special Act Team Award - Science Jamboree support (2019)
  • ADNET CREW Award (2015)
  • ADNET CREW Award - GSFC Code 600 Web Development Team (2013)
  • Peer Award - Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics (2003)
  • Group Achievement Award - ASCA Mission Operations Team (1996)
  • Group Achievement Award - High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (1996)
  • Peer Award - Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics (1994)
  • Special Act Group Award - ASCA Team (1993)
  • Group Achievement Award - Astro-1 Payload Science Team (1992)
  • Special Act Group Award - ROSAT Science Data Center (1991)
  • Group Achievement Award - Astro-1 Investigators Group (1991)

Professional Societies

American Astronomical Society

1990 - 2003

Professional Service

Supported over 40 NASA mission peer reviews 1993--2010.

Selected Publications


2008. "AstroCappella: Songs of the Universe." BAAS 212 254 [Journal Article/Letter]


1989. "Predicting Solar Activity." SAR Company Newsletter 5 1-4 [Newsletter]

Selected Public Outreach


1998 - Present

Karen is involved in the AstroCappella project, an effort to bring science to students through a cappella music.

Imagine the Universe poster series

1997 - 2009

Karen was instrumental in the design elements of this poster series.

Imagine the Universe CD-ROM

1997 - 2009

Responsible for design and layout of the first 13 editions of this CD-ROM collection of GSFC Astrophysics educational web sites.