Jürgen Rahe was the Director for Solar System Exploration of NASA's Office of Space Science. Rahe's career began in Germany, where he was born and educated, receiving a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Hamburg in 1966 and a Dr. Habil from the Technical University of Berlin in 1971. He taught at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, where he was both Professor and Director of the Astronomical Institute, for 12 years, beginning in 1971. He also served as director of the Remeis Observatory in Bamberg. Jurgen came to the United States in 1985 to work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and teach planetary astronomy at Caltech. He moved to NASA Headquarters in 1989 (shortly after joining AAS) as Discipline Scientist for the Planetary Astronomy Program, and advanced to direct the Solar System Exploration Division. At the time of his death, Rahe was responsible for the overall management, budget, and strategic planning for NASA's solar system exploration program. He was also deeply involved in forging international partnerships to advance solar system exploration.
His scientific research, begun in Germany and continued in the USA, included studies of cataclysmic variables, novae, and interacting binaries, but he became best known as a comet researcher. He continued advancing comet research as Co-Leader of the International Halley Watch and Co-Investigator on the European Space Agency's Giotto mission to Comet Halley. He also served as Program Scientist for the Clementine, Rosetta, and Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous missions, and as Associate Program Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope. His award include NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal and a posthumous Distinguished Service Medal. Asteroid 1982 VT was named in his honor.