Image of Lindley Johnson

This photo shows him standing in the basement vault of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History that contains its extensive meteorite collection. The “layer cake” he is holding is actually a preserved sample of Earth’s sediment from about 65 million years ago. The finger-width layer of light sediment he is pointing out is iridium enriched and believed to have been laid down from ejecta of the asteroid impact thought to have caused the demise of the dinosaurs.


Lindley Johnson

NEO Observations Program Executive

National Aeronautics and Space Administration





Lindley Johnson is assigned to NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate, Planetary Science Division, as the Lead Program Executive for the Discovery Program of mid-class Solar System exploration missions, and the Program Executive for the Near Earth Object Observations Program.  Prior to NASA he served 23 years of Air Force active duty, obtained the rank of lieutenant colonel while working a variety of national security space systems, and received 15 major individual or unit awards.  After joining NASA, he was the Program Executive for NASA’s Deep Impact mission to comet Tempel 1, launched in January 2005 to deliver an impact probe to the comet’s surface on July 4, 2005, and explore the composition and interior structure of short-period comets.  The Discovery Program has developed and flown eleven different spacecraft on missions throughout the inner solar system, and Lindley has led the program for the last seven years on five of these missions.  NASA’s NEO Observations program has discovered over 7,400 near-Earth asteroids and comets since Lindley became its manager, about 80% of the total known.  Lindley has received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal for his work on comet and asteroid missions.  Asteroid 5905 (1989 CJ1) is named Johnson to recognize Lindley’s efforts in detecting Near Earth Objects.