Gerhard Neukum 1944-2014

Prof. Gerhard Neukum, our planetary scientist colleague, passed away on 21 September 2014. He was one of the most prominent planetary researchers in Germany and one of the world’s recognised experts in the field. He made a name for himself in his chosen field with the work he conducted on the chronology of Solar System bodies.

He was born in 1944 in the Sudetenland, he got his Ph.D. in physics on lunar craters at the University of Heidelberg, and his HDR in geophysics and planetary sciences at the University Louis and Maximilian in Munich in 1983, where he was appointed extraordinary professor in 1989. Since 1997, he occupied the position of professor of geosciences at the Free University of Berlin. He also headed the Institute of Planetology DLR between 1993 and 2002.

He was instrumental in the birth of ESA’s Mars Express Mission devoted to the in-depth study of the surface of Mars since late 2003, for which he instigated the development of the high-resolution stereo camera (HRSC) leading the team of scientists that analyzes the results of this experiment. G. Neukum was also part of the imaging team of the joint ESA-NASA Cassini- Huygens mission who is exploring the Saturnian system since 2004.  He was furthermore involved in the ESA Rosetta mission which is expected to land on the comet Churyumov – Gerasimenko in November 2014, and in NASA’s Dawn mission to study the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.