The Division for Planetary Sciences sadly announces that Michael J. Drake, Regents' Professor, director of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and head of the department of planetary sciences, died September 21st at The University of Arizona Medical Center-University Campus in Tucson, Ariz. He was 65.
Drake, who joined the UA planetary sciences faculty in 1973 and headed LPL and the planetary sciences department since 1994, played a key role in a succession of very high-profile space projects that garnered international attention for LPL and the University such as the Cassini mission to explore Saturn, the Gamma-Ray Spectrometer onboard NASA's Mars Odyssey Orbiter, the HiRISE camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Phoenix Mars Lander. Drake was currently the principal investigator of the most ambitious UA project to date, OSIRIS-REx, a mission designed to retrieve a sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth.
Drake also was a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geochemical Society and the Meteoritical Society, and he was president of the latter two. He led a major undergraduate teaching effort in planetary sciences, even though the department was created as a graduate program.
He will be missed as a world-class scientist, a valued colleague and professor and a great contributor to Planetary Sciences.
The full story and photos are online at: http://www.uanews.org/node/42011 .