Noel W. Hinners, a geologist and soil chemist who helped NASA launch some of its farthest-reaching scientific probes into space – to retrieve moon rocks, map the surface of Mars and peer beyond intergalactic dust to where stars are born – died on Friday in Littleton, Colo. He was 78…Dr. Hinners, who held various titles as an administrator and chief scientist for NASA in the 1970s and ’80s, was the main advocate for pure scientific research in an organization ruled by rocket engineers and pilots…Dr. Hinners graduated from Rutgers University in 1958 with a degree in soil science and agricultural research, and with thoughts of a career in agriculture.
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