Larry H. Brace, 76, NASA astrophysicist

September 01, 2005|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Larry H. Brace, a Goddard Space Flight Center physicist who worked on satellite exploration of the planets, died of an aneurysm Sunday at St. Agnes HeathCare. The Charlestown Retirement Community resident was 76.

He was born in Saginaw, Mich., and he served in the Navy during the Korean War.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and did graduate work in physics, mathematics and astronomy.

During his long career in space exploration, he published papers and contributed to books on planetary ionospheres and techniques for measuring them.

For 30 years, he was an astrophysicist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard center in Greenbelt and also led its planetary atmospheres branch.

He was a member of the science teams for the Atmosphere Explorers and Dynamics Explorers satellites. He was also involved with the 1978 Pioneer Venus Orbiter mission.

"He was logical and organized. He thought things through," said his daughter, Suzanne M. Caulfield of Glenwood. "When he was putting a nail in a wall, he measured it from top to bottom and brought out a level. He would take 20 minutes to take what could have taken seven seconds. But when he was finished, it was perfect."

Mr. Brace was the principal investigator on 15 satellite experiments to study the ionospheres of Earth and Venus. He was given Goddard's Exceptional Performance Award in 1972 and the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievements in 1980.

He retired from government service in 1990 and joined the research faculty at the University of Michigan's Space Physics Research Laboratory, also at Goddard. Though he subsequently retired from the university, Mr. Brace at his death had been preparing to serve as a consultant to it for a satellite mission to Mars.

The former Edgewater resident was a five-term president of the Edgewater Beach Citizens Association in the 1960s and 1970s, and vice president of the Federation of South River Associations in the 1980s.

Mr. Brace enjoyed reading works of political philosophy. He also traveled, attended musical theater and walked Patapsco Valley State Park trails.

Services are private.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 52 years, the former Patricia Ann Phillips; two sons, Keith A. Brace of Chase and Karl S. Brace of Acton, Mass.; a brother, Douglas A. Brace of Cold Spring, Texas; and five grandchildren.

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