AAS Division For Planetary Sciences Announces 2016 Prize Winners

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10 May 2016

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AAS DIVISION FOR PLANETARY SCIENCES ANNOUNCES 2016 PRIZE WINNERS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is pleased to announce its 2016 prize winners.

The Gerard P. Kuiper Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science is awarded posthumously to the late Dr. Stanton J. Peale (University of California, Santa Barbara) for his substantial and broad contributions, particularly in the areas of planetary dynamics, planetary interiors, and the search for extrasolar planetary systems. His application of rigorous mathematical modeling to understanding the interiors of planets and moons led to the prediction that Io, one of the moons of Jupiter discovered by Galileo, would exhibit active volcanic eruptions. Soon after his prediction, the Voyager 1 spacecraft proved him right. He also devised an ingenious procedure to determine whether Mercury’s core is molten, which was confirmed by radar observations. His other significant contributions included studies of the Laplace resonance, a celestial dance linking Io to other Galilean moons, and the spin-orbit behaviors of several planets and satellites. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 and was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Geophysical Union. He held a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, and asteroid (3612) Peale was named after him. He received his doctoral degree from Cornell University in 1965. Peale died of leukemia in May 2015 at age 78, three days after submitting his final research paper for publication.

The Harold C. Urey Prize for outstanding achievement in planetary research by a young scientist goes to Dr. Leigh Fletcher (University of Leicester, United Kingdom) in recognition of his ground-breaking work in understanding physical and chemical processes in the atmospheres of the outer planets. His research has resulted in insights into such phenomena as the distribution of temperatures, chemicals, and clouds in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot; the chemical make-up of Saturn’s atmosphere, which reveals clues about its origin; the identification of the cloud levels responsible for the brightening of a planetary-scale region on Jupiter; the discovery of a major hot vortex in Saturn’s stratosphere; the implications of changes of Saturn’s temperatures and gaseous constituents for variability in its dynamics; and the distribution of Neptune’s stratospheric temperatures and minor constituents. Dr. Fletcher is currently a Royal Society University Research Fellow. He received his PhD in planetary sciences from the University of Oxford in 2007.

Dr. Mark Sykes (Planetary Science Institute) will receive the Harold Masursky Award for outstanding service to planetary science and exploration for his significant contributions to fostering a positive research environment for planetary scientists. His advocacy for planetary sciences includes authorship of NASA’s first spacecraft data rights policy; providing groundwork for the first decadal survey for solar system studies and organizing, editing, and publishing the first collection of community white papers on all aspects of planetary science, which is now a standard practice; establishing and for nine years editing the weekly Planetary Exploration Newsletter (PEN), which now has over 3,000 subscribers; and successfully rallying astronomers around the world against an effort to build a development near Mt. Hopkins in Arizona that would have led to substantial light pollution near major telescope facilities. Dr. Sykes was a founding member and chair of the NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group and has served the DPS in many capacities, including a term as Chair, and he established the Division’s Federal Relations Subcommittee. Finally, over the past 12 years he greatly expanded the Planetary Science Institute, where he is the Director, to be the largest non-government employer of planetary scientists today. Dr. Sykes received his PhD in planetary sciences from the University of Arizona in 1986; he also holds a Juris Doctor from the same institution and is a member of the Arizona Bar.

The Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding public communication by an active planetary scientist goes to Dr. Yong-Chun Zheng (National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences) for his tireless promotion of planetary sciences to the Chinese public and for his explanations of Chinese science to the western world. As an investigator on Chang’E-1 and Chang’E-2 with expertise in lunar geochemistry and geology, he has delivered scores of talks at planetariums and science museums. He is a columnist for the Xinhua News Agency, and he is a frequent contributor to print and online publications that have millions of readers, such as China Science and Technology Daily. Dr. Zheng blogs several times each day on the sites of the China Science Daily and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with an emphasis in his writings about why the average person should care about topics in planetary science and astronomy. His blog at http://www.sciencenet.cn has been visited more than 340,000 times, and he has written several books and book chapters for a general audience. His more than 100 popular articles have been published in The People’s Daily, Space Exploration, Military Digest, Newton Science World, and other publications. He often posts about NASA’s missions, including most recently about the New Horizons Pluto flyby and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter studies of recurrent seasonal gullies on Mars. Dr. Zheng earned his doctoral degree in geochemistry and cosmochemistry from the Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 2005. He currently serves as an associate professor at the National Astronomical Observatories. He is also an adjunct associate professor at the Macau University of Science and Technology in Macau, China.

The Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award recognizes and stimulates distinguished popular writing on planetary sciences. This year’s recipient is Nadia Drake, a freelance science journalist and contributing writer for “No Place Like Home,” a blog with National Geographic’s Phenomena science salon. She has a PhD in genetics from Cornell University and is a former professional ballerina. Since studying science communication at the University of California, Santa Cruz, she has been an intern at Nature, an astronomy reporter at Science News, and a reporter for Wired Science covering life sciences. Dr. Drake has written about topics as diverse as rogue planets, human ancestors, and giant spiders. She has a particular fondness for Iapetus, exomoons, words, and champagne. In her winning entry, “Scientists in Flying Telescope Race to Intercept Pluto’s Shadow” (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/07/150702-pluto-occultation-shad…), Dr. Drake gives a highly engaging personal account of how astronomers are keeping tabs on Pluto’s puzzling atmosphere by chasing the planet’s shadow with the SOFIA airborne observatory.

The 2016 DPS prizes will be presented at the joint 48th meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) and 11th European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) in Pasadena, California, 16-21 October 2016 (https://aas.org/meetings/dps48).

Contacts:
Dr. Vishnu Reddy
DPS Press Officer
+1 808-342-8932
[email protected]

Dr. Jason Barnes
DPS Chair
+1 208-310-2079
[email protected]

More information about DPS prizes:
prizes/2016

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AAS Division For Planetary Sciences Announces 2015 Prize Winners

21 August 2015

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AAS DIVISION FOR PLANETARY SCIENCES ANNOUNCES 2015 PRIZE WINNERS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is pleased to announce its 2015 prize winners.

Gerard P. Kuiper Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science: Dr. Yuk Yung (Caltech) has made numerous enduring contributions to planetary science, particularly in the areas of atmospheric photochemistry, global climate change, radiative transfer, atmospheric evolution, and planetary habitability. His unique integration of observations, laboratory data, and quantitative modeling has yielded pioneering insights into the characterization, origin, and evolution of atmospheres in the solar system. His models of the chemistry of planetary atmospheres, developed through basic research, have been widely used to interpret results from spacecraft missions, including the Vikings, Voyagers, Pioneer Venus, Galileo, Venus Express, Cassini, Mars Science Laboratory, and New Horizons. Dr. Yung is Smits Family Professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. He received his bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from University of California, Berkeley, in 1969 and his doctoral degree in physics from Harvard University in 1974.

Harold C. Urey Prize for outstanding achievement in planetary research by a young scientist: Dr. Geronimo Luis Villanueva (Catholic University of America, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) has demonstrated exceptional capability and versatility in addressing scientific challenges in the planetary sciences. He was instrumental in the design and development of the high-resolution submillimeter heterodyne spectrometer for the SOFIA airborne observatory. He then moved into observational astronomy, making seminal contributions across the field of cometary science, including observations, data processing and analysis, and modeling and Monte Carlo simulations. Geronimo obtained the first measurement of the deuterium-to-hydrogen (D/H) ratio in water in a periodic comet, created algorithms to model cometary fluorescence emission incorporating large databases for H2O and HDO, and developed quantum-mechanical models for infrared bands. Turning to Mars, Geronimo conducted a multiyear multi-telescope observing campaign to chart the composition of the Martian atmosphere, including its seasonal variability as well as a quantitative assessment of Mars’s early water abundance. For his work with comets and with Mars’s atmosphere, Geronimo is recognized as one of the best young spectroscopists of his generation. Dr. Villanueva is currently a Research Assistant Professor at the Catholic University of America, in residence at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Universidad Mendoza, Argentina. He received his master’s degree from Clausthal Technical University, Germany, in 2003, and his Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg, Germany, in 2004.

Harold Masursky Award for outstanding service to planetary science and exploration: Dr. Christina Richey (NASA Headquarters & Smart Data Solutions, LLC) has made significant contributions to fostering equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion in planetary science in the spirit of the Harold Masursky award. Christina’s willingness to go far above and beyond the call of her regular work duties on these issues helps our planetary community become more open, diverse, and accepting. Much of her focus has been on education about the effects of harassment. She addresses anti-harassment policies at conferences; pushes for post-doc harassment training; ensures that key community leaders show support for all within the planetary sciences; helps distribute materials used by institutions to develop anti-harassment policies; and personally assists community members dealing with harassment issues. In addition to her anti-harassment work, she tackles broader issues that impact the most vulnerable members within our planetary-science community. She participates in mentoring workshops for early-career scientists as well as workshops on alternative careers. Dr. Richey is active in the Women in Planetary Science Group, is chair of the AAS’s Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA), and is an influential participant in the Women in Astronomy blog. Dr. Richey is currently a cross-divisional program officer at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C., as well as the Deputy Program Scientist for the OSIRIS-REx mission. She earned her bachelor’s degree in physics from Wheeling Jesuit University, West Virginia, in 2004, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in physics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2007 and 2011, respectively.

Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public: Dr. Dan Durda (Southwest Research Institute) has consistently communicated with the public about the wonders of exploring new worlds via the written word, the spoken word, and visual artistry. Dan writes for popular astronomy magazines such as Sky & Telescope and Mercury and authors columns, articles, and blogs for the public. As a natural extension of his compelling writing, Dan is sought as a planetary science spokesperson, both for lectures and on TV. His science addresses impacts and impact processes at many scales; thus he has become a requested media commentator on catastrophic asteroid impacts. The artistic dimension of Durda’s public outreach, however, sets him in a class apart. His art derives from a healthy dose of scientific knowledge, though, as Dan says, “I’m not afraid to loosen the reins at times.” His paintings and digital art present scientifically grounded depictions of solar-system objects as well as alien worlds. Dr. Durda is currently a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. He earned his bachelor’s degree in astronomy from the University of Michigan in 1987 and his master’s and doctoral degrees in astronomy from the University of Florida in 1989 and 1993, respectively.

Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award to recognize and stimulate distinguished popular writing on planetary sciences: Stephen Battersby is a freelance science journalist and ex-astrophysicist who has written about such diverse subjects as giant black holes and small bogs, the end of time and the nature of slime — but he has a particular fondness for icy moons. He writes regularly for New Scientist magazine, and his work has also appeared in Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Current Science, and Discover. Recently he has been writing reports and articles for business, covering climate change, renewable energy, and adaptation. Battersby has been a features editor at New Scientist and a News & Views editor at Nature. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Oxford University and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Imperial College, London. In his winning entry, “Splash of the Titans,” in the 24 May 2014 issue of New Scientist, Battersby explores methane tides on the icy seashores of Saturn’s largest moon through the radar eyes of the Cassini spacecraft. The discovery of methane seas hiding under the orange haze on Titan ranks among the most fascinating chapters in the exploration of our solar system.

The 2015 DPS prizes will be presented at the 47th annual DPS meeting in National Harbor, Maryland, 8-13 November 2015 [http://aas.org/meetings/dps47].

Contacts:
Dr. Vishnu Reddy
DPS Press Officer
+1 808-342-8932
[email protected]

Dr. Bonnie Buratti
DPS Chair
+1 818-468-1401
[email protected]

More information about DPS prizes:
prizes/2015

More information about the DPS annual meeting:
http://aas.org/meetings/dps47

2015 Prize Recipients

Yuk Yung – 2015 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize

Yuk Yung

The 2015 Kuiper Prize recipient is Dr. Yuk Yung, Smits Family Professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. Yung has made numerous enduring contributions to planetary science, particularly in the areas of atmospheric photochemistry and aeronomy, global climate change, radiative transfer, atmospheric evolution, and mesospheric-thermospheric chemistry and exchange. His unique integration of observations, laboratory data, and careful modeling has yielded pioneering insights into the current properties and behavior of solar-system atmospheres, as well as their historical evolution. His models of the chemistry of planetary atmospheres have been widely used to interpret the results from spacecraft missions, including the Vikings, Voyagers, Pioneer Venus, Galileo, Venus Express, Mars Science Laboratory, Cassini, and New Horizons.

Key to his success has been his enormous enthusiasm and inexhaustible tenacity for research, his very broad knowledge in many fields, his creative and innovative approach to problems in planetary atmospheres.  His continual flow of new ideas, his breadth of knowledge, and his big-picture understanding of planetary science have inspired generations of students and postdocs over the past four decades. 

The DPS is pleased to award the 2015 Kuiper Prize to Yuk Yung, a founding fathers of planetary atmospheric chemistry and one of the most influential researchers in the field. 

 

Geronimo Villanueva – 2015 Harold C. Urey Prize

Geronimo Villanueva

The 2015 Urey Prize winner is Dr. Geronimo Luis Villanueva. Villanueva has demonstrated exceptional capability and versatility in addressing scientific challenges in a variety of areas. His initial focus was instrument building: he designed and developed the high-resolution submillimeter heterodyne spectrometer for the SOFIA airborne observatory.  He then moved into observational astronomy, making seminal contributions across the field of cometary science: observations, data processing and analysis, and modeling and Monte Carlo simulations. Villanueva obtained the first measurement of D/H in water in a periodic comet; created algorithms to model cometary fluorescence emission incorporating large databases for H2O and HDO, and developed quantum mechanical models for infrared bands. Turning to Mars, Villanueva conducted a multi-year multi-telescope observing campaign to chart the composition of the Martian atmosphere including its seasonal variability as well as a quantitative assessment of Mars’ early water abundance.

For his work with comets and with Mars’ atmosphere; his spectroscopic databases; his molecular calculations; his models of comet excitation; his work on the minor species in the Martian atmosphere, and much more, Villanueva is recognized as one of the best young spectroscopists in his generation. His additional work with instrumentation, programming ability, data handling and visualization skills, and collaborative team building collectively distinguish him.

The DPS is delighted to award the 2015 Urey Prize to Dr. Villanueva for the breadth, depth, and high quality of his contributions as a young planetary scientist.

 

Christina Richey – 2015 Harold Masursky Award

Christina Richey

The 2015 Masursky Awardee is Dr. Christina Richey.  DPS honors  Richey  for her significant contributions to fostering equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion in planetary science. Richey’s willingness to go far above and beyond the call of her regular work duties on these issues helps our planetary community become more open, diverse, and accepting. This benefits all planetary scientists.

Much of her focus has been on education about the effects of harassment. Harassment is not an easy issue to tackle, particularly on a public level and especially at an early junction within one’s career.  Richey  is undaunted. She addresses anti-harassment policies at conferences; pushes for post-doc harassment training; ensures that key community leaders show support for all within planetary sciences; generates materials used by institutions to develop anti-harassment policies; and personally assists community members dealing with harassment issues.

In addition to her anti-harassment work, she tackles broader issues that impact the most vulnerable members within our planetary science community. She participates in mentoring workshops for early career scientists, as well as workshops on alternative careers. Richey is active in the Women in Planetary Science Group, is chair of the AAS’s Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA), and is an influential participant in the Women in Astronomy blog.

For her extraordinary service and bravery in addressing sensitive but important social issues in planetary science, the DPS honors Dr. Richey with the 2015 Harold Masursky Award for meritorious service.

 

Dan Durda – 2015 Carl Sagan Medal

Dan Durda

The DPS is delighted to honor Dr. Dan Durda with the 2015 Sagan Medal. Throughout his scientific career, Durda  has consistently communicated with the public about the wonders of exploring new worlds via the written word, the spoken word, and visual artistry. Durda writes for popular astronomy magazines such as Sky & Telescope and Mercury, authoring columns, articles, and blogs for the public. As a natural extension of his compelling writing, Durda is sought as a planetary science spokesperson, both for lectures and on TV. His science addresses impacts and impact processes at many scales; thus he has become a requested media commentator on catastrophic asteroid impacts. This has broadened to other solar system topics as well as exoplanets.

The artistic dimension of Durda’s ’s public outreach, however, sets him in a class apart. His art derives from a healthy dose of scientific knowledge although, as Durda says, “I’m not afraid to loosen the reins at times.” His paintings present scientifically-grounded depictions of solar system objects as well as alien worlds. Durda’s abilities span the art spectrum. He creates original paintings, giclees, and poster artwork. He is a Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists. In 2013, Durda’s organized an art exhibit at the DPS meeting to share creative art with the planetary community, and to engage artists themselves with science.

The DPS is honored to present the 2015 Sagan Medal to Dan Durda, one of those rare scientists who communicates the wonder of planetary science through not only writing and speaking, but also through visual artistry.

 

 

Stephen Battersby – 2015 Jonathan Eberhart Award

Stephen Battersby

Stephen Battersby is a freelance science journalist and a trained astrophysicist who has written about subjects as diverse as black holes and icy moons. He writes regularly for New Scientist and his work has also appeared in Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Current Science and Discover. Recently he has been writing reports and articles for businesses including Xyntéo, DNV GL and BSI, covering climate change, renewable energy, and energy policy. In his free time he enjoys setting questions for the BBC quiz show University Challenge.  Battersby has been features editor at New Scientist and a News & Views editor at Nature. He has a BA in physics from Oxford, and a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College, London.  

In his winning entry, Battersby explores methane tides on the icy seashores of Saturn’s largest moon through the radar eyes of the Cassini spacecraft. The discovery of methane seas hiding under the orange haze on Titan ranks among the most fascinating chapters in the exploration of our solar system, including the search for life.

For his engaging and evocative writing in the field of planetary science, the DPS honors Stephen Battersby with the 2015 Eberhart Award.

2014 Prize Recipients

Peter Gierasch – 2014 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize

Peter GeiraschThe Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society is pleased to award the 2014 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize for outstanding contribution to planetary science to Peter J. Gierasch.

Dr. Peter Gierasch is a professor of Astronomy at Cornell University and the co-founder of Cornell’s Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, which he led for over a decade. He received his bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1962 and 1968 respectively.

Dr. Gierasch has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of planetary atmospheres in the 49 years of his publication record. He served on numerous planetary missions, including Viking, Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, and Cassini. His impact on the study of planetary atmospheres is exceptional, his publication record and citations outstanding and, most of all, his publications have had a lasting effect on atmospheric science, with some of his early papers still being frequently cited today, decades after their publication. His papers on the Martian thermal and dynamical structure (1968), zonal-mean properties of Jupiter (1986), and Venus’ atmospheric rotation (1975) were ground-breaking and remain classics in the field. Long before the greenhouse effect and global warming became household terms, Peter worked these puzzles for Mars. He has continued his 1986 work ever since, applying his analyses to the atmospheres of other bodies. His 1975 work on Venus’ atmospheric superrotation (at sixteen times its solid body rotation) is now called the Gierasch mechanism. He discovered the ortho-para H2 potential energy reservoir and worked out its importance for giant-planet circulation. These well-know achievements are just the tip of a very large iceberg. Peter Gierasch is an exceptionally versatile researcher who has produced fundamental work in the highly mathematical theory of planetary atmospheres, has conducted outstanding data analyses, and written code to implement his ideas in general circulation and other models. In addition to his well-known work on the atmospheres of Mars, Venus, and Jupiter, he has also published research on Uranus and even the Sun and Pluto.

Peter Gierasch is also highly respected as a teacher and mentor. As a classroom professor, Peter has made the complicated and sometimes bizarre behavior of rotating fluids come alive to his students. He never drowns his students in mathematics, but rather focuses on developing intuition in the rigorously presented formalism, connecting observable processes to specific terms. His patience and helpfulness to students, and his ability to judge the listener and present an explanation that will be understood, are legendary.

Gierasch is known for the quality of his research mentorship. He has patiently guided undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and young soft-money researchers to productive careers. He gives friendly encouragement and is enthusiastic for almost any work as long as it is good. He empowers, rather than overpowers, as can be seen by his large body of collaborative work. Gierasch’s academic descendants have gone on to found PhD programs, to run NASA laboratories, and to populate NASA’s and NSF’s rolls of successful principal investigators.

Gierasch’s co-founding and subsequent leadership of CRSR is in itself a major contribution to planetary science. The Apollo era saw an explosion in the funding and number of faculty positions in planetary science, the founding of the DPS, and the production of a large volume of PhDs. In the post-Apollo era the money continued to flow but the number of faculty positions did not increase. The Center provided a career track for the plethora of planetary PhDs by becoming one of the original soft-money institutes. Under his leadership, CRSR was home to researchers working on planetary missions, a NASA Regional Planetary Imaging Facility, instruments like the Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph and SOFIA FORCAST, numerous ground-based instruments for the Hale telescope on Mt. Palomar and others, and teams involved in Voyager, Galileo, Cassini, and NEAR Shoemaker, just to name a few.

Quiet, fair, patient, and kind almost to a fault, Peter Gierasch is fully deserving of our organization’s highest honor.

Matija Cuk – 2014 Harold C. Urey Prize

Matija CukThe Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society is pleased to award the 2014 Harold C. Urey Prize for outstanding achievement in planetary research by a young scientist to Matija Cuk.

Dr Cuk is currently a researcher at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Matija’s specialty is planetary dynamics and his broad-ranging research is significantly contributing to unravelling the origin of the solar system’s current structure. Matija’s interests span general aspects of planet and satellite formation to modern dynamical processes in the Solar System. His work is driven by observations in the Solar System, primarily dynamical but also chemical and geophysical. He has applied his skills across a remarkably broad range of topics: the origins and evolutions of the Moon, binary asteroids or KBOs, tidal evolution, orbital stability, rotational history and cratering.

For his Ph.D. dissertation, Matija developed the schemes and the analysis for how to capture Irregular satellites, and then investigated the effects of secular resonances on their orbits. These were described as technical tours de force of celestial mechanics. More importantly, during this same period he devised and convincingly demonstrated the BYORP mechanism (binary Yarkovsky-O’Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack) in which thermal radiation forces affect the orbital and rotational histories of binary asteroids. He realized that a tidally locked binary system intrinsically  provides the asymmetry that is the basis of the Yarkovsky mechanism (for an isolated body, the surface morphology accounts for this asymmetry). Other researchers have since elaborated on this mechanism, as has Matija, working with collaborators, some of whom were initially very skeptical of its effectiveness.

Lately, Matija has focused on the Earth-Moon system, including the evolution of the Moon’s orbit and the origin of the lunar cataclysm, and on aspects of the dynamics of unstable bodies in the solar system.  His work on lunar Trojans identified a significant flaw in the interpretation of the lunar cratering record. The number density of the craters on the Orientale ejecta blanket (the youngest impact basin) and craters with the freshest morphologies (class 1) are the same, indicating that class 1 craters date back to the tail of the cataclysm. Furthermore, the size-frequency distribution of class 1 craters does not match the main belt. Hence, the widely accepted assumption that the cataclysm was caused by perturbation of the main belt is not strongly supported by observations. Matija’s result shook up the status quo and solicited some strong responses, but no one identified any conceptual flaws in his arguments. The new crater catalog from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter significantly improved the cratering statistics by reducing the errors bars in the size-frequency distributions on different stratigraphic units. The cratering results published from this catalog support Matija’s interpretation of the previously available data, validating his arguments.

Matija’s work on the origin of the Moon sought to address the observed isotopic similarity between the Earth and Moon. In the canonical model for lunar origin, most of the Moon is derived from the mantle of the impactor, which should have had a different isotopic fingerprint than Earth. This contradiction between observations and the predictions from the giant impact model had reached a crisis point in the planetary community, and the giant impact hypothesis was being seriously questioned. Matija identified the angular momentum constraint as a possible pathway to reconciliation between the data and giant impact hypothesis: if the early Earth-Moon system had much higher angular momentum than present day, then alternate style impact events may derive the Moon primarily from Earth’s mantle. However, no one had demonstrated that sufficient angular momentum could be transferred away from the Earth-Moon system to allow for a highspin giant impact event. Matija quickly found that the evection resonance (when the precession period of the lunar orbit is one year) would be much stronger with an oblate Earth (with the present-day angular momentum budget, the evection resonance is very weak and the Moon would quickly pass through it). He defined the tidal parameters that led to the largest transfer of angular momentum from the Earth-Moon system to the Earth-Sun system. Matija’s result on the evection resonance is a major contribution to planetary science. It has opened new directions for understanding the origin and early evolution of the Earth-Moon system. The idea has provoked mass relief from geochemists and healthy skepticism from other dynamicists. Matija’s general result is sound but substantial differences emerge with application of different (and all imperfect) tidal models. It is possible that the evection resonance as explored by Matija does not turn out to be the final favored solution for the Moon; but if so, Matija will still have motivated a new area of research in lunar tidal history.

Through his insightful papers, technical brilliance, and independent thinking, Matija Cuk is clearly an outstanding young researcher and worthy of being recognized by the Harold C. Urey Prize.

Athena Coustenis – 2014 Harold Masursky Award

Athena CoustenisThe Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society is pleased to award the 2014 Harold Masursky Award for Meritorious Service to Planetary Science to Dr. Athena Coustenis.

Dr. Coustenis is currently Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France, and an astrophysicist with the Laboratoire d’Etudes Spatiales et d’Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA) of Paris Observatory, France. In addition to an impressive scientific research career, Athena has made major contributions to planetary sciences in the spirit of the Harold Masursky award. In particular she has, perhaps more than any other member of our community, made major contributions to promoting and facilitating international collaboration in planetary science.

Athena has played a major role in organizing the dissemination of scientific results at international conferences, including those of the European Geophysical Union, the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society, the DPS/AAS, the European Planetary Science Congress, as well as the AGU Goldschmidt conferences and the International Planetary Probe Workshops. She has done this by sponsoring and organizing planetary sessions at these meetings, often taking on the role of guest editor of special issues in scientific journals. She played a leading role in orchestrating the first joint DPS-EPSC meeting, held in France in 2011—an ultimately superbly successful union.

Athena was until last year the President of the Planetary Sciences section of the European Geosciences Union, an enormous scientific society by any standards and one that is highly influential in Europe. She has also taken on leadership roles in various societies. In addition to being the DPS Secretary, she currently serves as the president of the International Association for Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences of the IUGG, before that serving for several years as the president of the International Commission for Planetary Atmospheres and Environment, one of the units that comprise IAMAS. This represents a considerable effort, particularly as she has maintained her research, mentoring, and flight project duties.

Athena has also led efforts to plan new missions to the outer solar system and has played a considerable role fostering scientific collaborations between ESA and NASA. She was the leader of a European study for a mission to primarily study Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus (TandEM). She was the lead European scientist for a follow-up joint NASA-ESA study of a Titan/Saturn System Mission. These missions, although not selected, will serve as a template for future plans to return to Saturn. Athena was also the European co-lead of the JUICE mission that will study Europa, Ganymede, and Jupiter’s system, which ESA has selected for launch in 2022. As the Chair of ESA’s Solar System and Exploration Working Group and a member of ESA’s Space Sciences Advisory Committee and Human Space Flight and Exploration Science Advisory Committee, Athena has championed planetary science, ensuring that it remains high profile within ESA. She is currently the President of the European Science Foundation Space Studies Committee.

Athena Coustenis has rendered outstanding service to the international planetary science community through a combination of managerial, leadership, programmatic, and public service activities. For the tireless and wide-ranging service she has provided to the planetary science community, Athena Coustenis is clearly worthy of being recognized by the Harold Masursky award.

Guy Consolmagno – 2014 Carl Sagan Medal

Guy ConsolmagnoThe Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2014 Carl Sagan Medal for excellence in public communication to Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., Ph.D.

Br. Guy Consolmagno has a decades-long track record of communicating planetary science to the public while maintaining an active science career. In addition, he occupies a unique position within our profession as a credible spokesperson for scientific honesty within the context of religious belief. As a Jesuit Brother, Guy has become the voice of the juxtaposition of planetary science and astronomy with Christian belief, a rational spokesperson who can convey exceptionally well how religion and science can co-exist for believers.

Br. Guy’s love of teaching stems from his graduate school days in the 1970s when he spoke about planetary science at science fiction conventions. In the 1980s, when lecturing at the University of Nairobi in the Peace Corps, he traveled to outlying towns to set up a portable telescope for anyone to look through. He discovered that even people living in poverty had a hunger to see and understand the night sky. It is this hunger that he continues to address, both as a planetary scientist and a religious man, in his many presentations and writings. He has an easy-to-understand manner of speaking to an audience that invites people to join his journey of discovery.

Br. Guy uses multiple media to reach his audience. He has authored or edited six books, at least one, “Turn Left At Orion”, in its fourth edition of publication. This book alone has had an enormous impact on the amateur astronomy community, engendering public support for astronomy. His other popular science books have also had a significant impact on public perceptions of science, especially astronomy. Many of his popular books have addressed the scientist’s view of religion in contrast with a religious person’s view of science and have reached a significant audience: Brother Astronomer has one of the best descriptions of the real-life experiences of the ANSMET team that collects meteorites in Antarctica every year. Guy manages to write in an entertaining style about how science is really done, in a way that still manages to capture the imagination. From the point of view of popular publications about astronomy, Guy’s work has unquestionably had an international impact. Some of these have been translated into Italian and Spanish. In addition to writing books, he is a dynamic popular speaker, giving 40 to 50 public lectures every year across both Europe and the United States, reaching thousands of people. He regularly interviews on BBC radio shows on planetary science topics and hosted his own BBC radio show discussing origins of the universe (A Brief History of the End of Everything). These appearances address both pure science subjects (no religious context is presented) and science-with-religion subjects.

Brother Guy has established himself as a careful and well respected researcher, a vibrant member of the planetary science community, and an outstanding communicator of planetary science to the public, in the very best tradition of Carl Sagan.

James Oberg – 2014 Jonathan Eberhart Award

James ObergThe Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2014 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award to recognize and stimulate distinguished popular writing on planetary sciences to James Oberg.

James Oberg is a science journalist, space consultant, and retired “rocket scientist.” He spent the first 22 years of his career as a space engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he specialized in space shuttle operations and orbital rendezvous. James has authored some two-dozen books about all aspects of space flight for both the astronomy-interested layman and NASA’s training program. He also has written more than 1,000 magazine and newspaper articles. His work has appeared in Astronomy, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, OMNI, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and others. In addition, James has served as the NBC News space consultant for a decade. He is considered an expert on the Russian space program and U.S. space policy.

James earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from Ohio Wesleyan University, a Master of Science in applied math from Northwestern University, and a Master of Science in computer science from the University of New Mexico. He also served in the military after his Northwestern education.

In his winning entry, “Torrid Mercury’s icy poles,” from Astronomy magazine’s December 2013 issue, James expertly explores the history of the search for the innermost planet’s water ice and what the MESSENGER spacecraft, launched in 2004, is revealing. The saga of water ice hiding in the shadows on Mercury ranks among the most fascinating chapters in the story of the solar system’s birth and evolution. 

2010 DPS Prize Recipients

Jeffrey N. Cuzzi – 2010 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2010 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science to Jeffrey N. Cuzzi, NASA Ames Research Center. Jeff has made many pioneering contributions to our understanding of the formation and evolution of planetary rings and planetesimals. Jeff’s work in this area spans four decades—from his early observational and theoretical work on rings, through his participation in NASA’s Voyager and Cassini missions, to his most recent state-of-the-art fluid dynamical modeling efforts that put us on the cusp of uncovering the mysteries of how planets form. Jeff’s quest for answers to fundamental questions about ring systems and planetary formation kept him attacking cutting edge problems that required mastery of several disciplines (e.g., radiative transfer, nebular dynamics, cosmochemistry), and an approach that often crossed into the fields of astrophysics and meteoritics. No better example of this is his work on planet formation. A recurring theme in this area has been his numerous studies of the coupled dynamics of particles and gas in the solar nebula, complementing and even moving beyond the pioneering work of Stu Weidenschilling. His approach ranged from simple yet elegant analytical theories, to complex non-linear codes running on state-of-the-art machines. Like a skilled craftsman, Jeff chose his tools carefully and over the years he solved or shed light on very complex problems such as the puzzling size sorting of chondrules in primitive meteorites, the apparent lack of isotopic fractionation of some of their key elements, the retention of high temperature, early-formed mineral grain in the nebula, and how the first asteroid-size bodies may form directly from small particles. Along the way of his career, Jeff has become an expert observer, theoretician, and modeler – a rare combination in today’s era of high specialization; and he has assembled, led, and/or collaborated with teams of international and interdisciplinary membership, including his work as Cassini Interdisciplinary Scientist for Rings. It is also worth mentioning Jeff’s generous and tireless service work to the community as a mentor, editor, reviewer, or panel expert, which speaks volumes about his dedication to the field. He is one of the most respected, admired, and sought after individuals in our field.

Jeff’s many and multifaceted contributions to the origins of ring systems and planetesimals are well known. Thanks to his work, the planetary community now possesses deep insight into the richness and complexity of phenomena in rings, and a complete theory on planet formation is, perhaps, in sight. It is therefore fitting that the Division for Planetary Science bestow our highest honor this year—the 2010 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize—to Jeffrey N. Cuzzi.

Jonathan J. Fortney – 2010 Harold C. Urey Prize

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2010 Harold C. Urey Prize for outstanding achievement in planetary research by a young scientist to Jonathan J. Fortney, Assistant Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz. In his short career Jonathan has made a major impact on studies of the evolution of planets, the structure and radii of planets, and on studies of planetary atmospheres. Much of this work—but not all—has focused on studies of extrasolar planets. For his thesis work Jonathan studied the evolution of Saturn while accounting for He differentiation. While He differentiation had long been suspected of accounting for both the low observed abundance and high heatflow, Jonathan was the first to demonstrate that a self-consistent description of Saturn’s interior, heatflow, and high pressure physics could indeed explain the current state of the planet. Jonathan’s models of planetary atmospheres over a wide range of objects from isolated brown dwarfs to close-in extrasolar giant planets has become a widely used tool for the community, and led to his selection as a Kepler participating scientist. Jonathan’s work on interpreting Spitzer observations of exoplanets led to his thorough exploration of the role titanium oxide could play in heating the stratospheres of the close-in giant planets, yielding the most-cited planetary science theory paper of 2008—one year after his 2007 paper on planetary atmosphere models earned the same distinction.

As a trained planetary scientist, Jonathan has been one of the relatively few to take on studies of extrasolar planets and this young field has been much richer for it. For the breadth of his work in revealing the workings of giant planets within and without our solar system, the Division for Planetary Sciences is pleased to award the 2010 Harold C. Urey Prize to Jonathan J. Fortney.

Alan Tokunaga – 2010 Masursky Award

The Division for Planetary Science of the American Astronomical Society presents the 2010 Harold Masursky Award for outstanding service to planetary science and exploration to Alan Tokunaga, Astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy of the University of Hawaii. As the longest-serving Division Chief (director) of NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) since 2000 and deputy director in the mid-80’s, Alan Tokunaga has played an indispensible role in the growth of ground-based infrared astronomy of the solar system, and in furthering planetary science as a whole. He has been the PI for a series of instruments for the IRTF, has strengthened the observatory so that it is a vital national and international resource, has provided wide-ranging NASA mission support, has contributed in fundamental ways to planetary science through his own research, and has furthered infrared astronomy by standardizing photometric systems and providing a compendium of our current knowledge of the field in Allen’s Astrophysical Quantities. Alan Tokunaga’s efforts have made it possible for all planetary scientists to have access to first-rate observing facilities. This includes international users, and many without access to facilities through their own institutions. Perhaps the greatest beneficiaries have been students. Many of today’s planetary scientists “learned the ropes” as students at the IRTF. Alan has been a continuous source of support and expertise to users of IRTF and visitor instruments. His calm, yet strong, personality is ideal for a director of an observatory with many users.

The number of advances and discoveries in planetary science to which Alan Tokunaga was either a direct or an indirect contributor through his research and directorship of the IRTF is too long to list here. For his exemplary and far-reaching service to the planetary community, the Division for Planetary Science is pleased to present the 2010 Harold Masursky Award to Alan Tokunaga.

Carolyn C. Porco – 2010 Sagan Medal

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2010 Carl Sagan Medal for excellence in public communication by an active planetary scientist to Carolyn C. Porco, Senior Research Scientist at the Space Science Institute. Beginning with the Voyager mission, Carolyn proved herself a very capable public communicator for science and spokesperson for planetary science in particular. She spoke eloquently about the Voyager mission, planetary exploration, the upcoming Cassini/Huygens mission and other more difficult topics such as UFOs and extraterrestrial life. She immediately exhibited those qualities so important in a public communicator—animation, enthusiasm and ease of explanation. The general public does not speak science, and a scientist must not insist that they understand this language. Carolyn speaks the language of the public in her appearances and in her writing. She never hides behind science jargon. During the development of Cassini/Huygens, Carolyn defended the mission eloquently not just in the White House but also in a separate hearing by House Subcommittee on Science and Aeronautics. She effectively turned a disposition to cancel the mission into a real attitude of support inside the Administration and Congress. In the controversy surrounding the use of nuclear materials during the launch of Cassini-Huygens, Carolyn served again effectively as a public spokesperson in defending the mission against the irrational. Since the launch of Cassini/Huygens, Carolyn has been not just the Cassini imaging scientist but a strong public image-maker for the mission. Armed with the fabulous pictures from Cassini, and from Huygens, she has made numerous appearances in public forums and in the media to spread enthusiasm and understanding for this outstanding mission. Carolyn has been equally eloquent on planetary exploration and other diverse topics in philosophy and science. There is no one else in the planetary science community who has made such a popular impression.

One of Carolyn’s nominators pointed out that Carl Sagan was not just a rationalist, but was also a romantic who teased the human essence out of our science enterprise. Carolyn too is such a person, having conceived and followed through on the notion of sending Gene Shoemaker’s ashes to the Moon on Lunar Prospector. For her myriad contributions in bringing planetary science to the public at large, the Division for Planetary Sciences is pleased to award the 2010 Carl Sagan Medal to Carolyn C. Porco.

George Musser – 2010 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society presents the 2010 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award to George Musser.

After undergraduate studies in electrical engineering and mathematics at Brown University, George started exploring the solar system during his graduate work at Cornell University. As a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at Cornell, he modeled mantle convection on Venus in order to explain the broad plateaus, known as coronae, mapped by the Magellan orbiter for his thesis. George has authored or co-authored peer-reviewed papers on impact-related surface features on Venus and has worked with eminent planetary scientists on studies of Mars and Europa. Thus, George is a science journalist who is actually one of “us”.

However, toward the end of the twentieth century, a critical period during which the outlook for continued funding for planetary research turned bleak, George decided to pursue his other interest: writing about science. The loss to planetary science has resulted in an immense gain for the general public curious to learn about science. George spent five years with the Astronomy Society of the Pacific as editor of its Mercury magazine and its Universe in the Classroom tutorial series. In 1998 he began writing for Scientific American, where he is now a staff editor and writer.

His skills in explaining complex topics are evident in his writings. His book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to String Theory, leads one to believe that George will produce more masterpieces able to hold reader interest in a complex topic. Martin Rees writes in his foreword to George’s book, “For aliens, the intricacies of string theory may be a doodle. But for most of us humans, they are a Himalayan challenge. That is why we should welcome a book such as this—written by an expert communicator—which aims to distill the essence of these daunting ideas into a palatable brew that we can all savour.” We hope George continues to write about planetary science for years to come, and perhaps someday he will explain to us what makes Venus work. In the meantime, he is currently blogging about installing solar panels.

There is no better example of George’s dedication to accuracy and clear, engaging writing than his article, “5 Essential Things to do in Space,” which appeared in the October 2007 issue of Scientific American. There he describes the rationale for monitoring Earth’s climate; preparing a defense for threatening asteroids; seeking life elsewhere; explaining the genesis of planets; and extending our explorations beyond the solar system. For this engaging and thought-provoking commentary, the Division for Planetary Sciences is pleased to present the 2010 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award to George Musser.

 

2009 DPS Prize Recipients

Tobias Owen – 2009 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize recipient

University of Hawaii at Manoa planetary astronomer Dr. Tobias Owen was awarded the 2009 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize by the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) for his outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science.

Throughout his career, Toby’s ideas have pushed the intellectual and multidisciplinary development of our field, and his findings have advanced our understanding of the origin and evolution of the solar system.

Owen began his career as a student of Gerard Kuiper, the illustrious Dutch-American astronomer for whom the prize is named. He has been involved in many of NASA’s major planetary missions over the past 40 years, including the ongoing Cassini-Huygens mission to the Saturn system. Owen was the American lead on a joint ESA-NASA team that developed this international mission and brought it to a new start in 1989. He is currently analyzing results from Cassini, the spacecraft that is still orbiting Saturn, and from the Huygens probe, which landed on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005.

Owen’s scientific achievements include the discovery of the rings of Jupiter and noble (inert) gases and heavy water on Mars, deducing the early existence of a new class of solar system building blocks called “solar composition icy planetesimals,” and establishing the importance of deuterium (heavy hydrogen) and other isotopes for studying the history and formation mechanisms of our solar system.

Owen joined the faculty of the UH Institute for Astronomy in 1990. He is a coauthor of two undergraduate textbooks, The Planetary System and The Search for Life in the Universe, both now in their third editions. He has also authored over 300 scientific articles.

This June, Owen received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Public Service. In 2006, he received the University of Hawaii’s Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research, shared the Grand Prix Marcel Dassault of the French Academy of Sciences with two colleagues for developing the Huygens probe, and received an honorary doctor’s degree from the Observatoire de Paris.

Sarah T. Stewart-Mukhopadhyay – 2009 Harold C. Urey Prize recipient

Prof. Sarah T. Stewart-Mukhopadhyay is the recipient of the 2009 Urey Prize from Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS).

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society has chosen Sarah T. Stewart-Mukhopadhyay for the 2009 Harold C. Urey Prize. The prize was established by the DPS to recognize and encourage outstanding achievements in planetary science by a young scientist.

Currently the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences at Harvard University, Sarah initially showed her abilities as a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology while trying to explain the relationship between the unusual ejecta features around impact craters on Mars and ground ice. Her laboratory experiments were the first to study shock propagation in ice under conditions found on planets and moons in our solar system. She has continued her work at Harvard, where she was also an undergraduate student, building a shock wave laboratory and making contributions to our understanding of craters, planetary accretion and evolution of planetary surfaces.

Sarah’s findings show that ice, even when initially at very low temperatures, melts easily during an impact event by very quickly changing into different dense crystal structures. She demonstrated that shock-induced melting occurs at much lower pressures than previous theoretical estimates, thereby providing strong evidence for sub-surface ice playing the dominant role in forming layered ejecta morphologies on Mars. Similarly, her collaborative work on vapor and fluidized flow implicates liquid water as the most prevalent erosive fluid currently active on Mars.

Besides being a very productive scientist, Prof. Stewart- Mukhopadhyay is an exceptional role model for younger scientists. She is skilled in communicating her research to her colleagues and peers. She is an effective and a generous mentor to her students while raising a family and doing community service. She has helped build a meteorite exhibit for the Harvard Museum of Natural History and also produced an educational video for school students.

Steven W. Squyres – 2009 Sagan Medal recipient

For his work making the Mars Exploration Rover mission a compelling saga for millions of people, Steven W. Squyres, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy and principal scientific investigator for the mission, has received the 2009 Carl Sagan Medal which recognizes a planetary scientist for excellence in public communication.

Quick to share credit with the entire Mars rover mission team at Cornell and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Squyres said he has always taken seriously the responsibility of giving people—the taxpayers who have bankrolled the mission—a clear window into what they are doing on Mars.

“We feel very strongly that the people who pay have a real right to find out in very clear, simple terms what they’re getting for their $900 million,” Squyres said.

Since January 2004, when the first rover, named Spirit, bounced down on the red planet, the Rover team has maintained a publicly accessible database of images taken by the rovers. Atypical of most NASA missions, the rover mission has allowed people to access data almost immediately. It was a conscious decision by the rover team, Squyres said, to pipeline the data straight to the Web.

“If I’m asleep and you’re awake, you can see the pictures from the rover before I do,” he said. “And what that has done is it’s really enabled people to share in this voyage of exploration.”

Squyres hopes these efforts, including a Web site that provides updates of rover activities, has inspired young people to pursue careers in science and engineering.

“NASA does all kinds of wonderful things in space, from cosmology to gamma ray spectroscopy,” Squyres said. “But try explaining gamma ray spectroscopy to a third-grader. It’s hard. But you know, these are robots looking at rocks. It’s not that complicated. What that means is this mission is almost uniquely accessible to people.”

As a Cornell graduate student Squyres worked closely with Sagan. “Carl really pioneered, in a very important way, the way in which scientists interact with the media and the public,” Squyres said. “To receive an award that’s named after him for trying to do the same sort of thing that he did so brilliantly is a real honor.”

J. Kelly Beatty – 2009 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award recipient

J. Kelly Beatty, Senior Contributing Editor of Sky & Telescope magazine, is the recipient of the 2009 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award from the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). The DPS created this new award in honor of the late journalist and friend of planetary sciences Jonathan Eberhart, to recognize and stimulate distinguished popular writing on the subject.

“It is very appropriate that the first Eberhart Prize is being given to Kelly,” says DPS Press Officer Sanjay Limaye of the University of Wisconsin. “Kelly and Jonathan covered many DPS meetings together, and their unhesitating questions, usually the first ones to be asked following a presentation, were very interesting for younger students attending their first meeting. Kelly’s articles in Sky & Telescope and in other publications have helped the public share the excitement of learning about the solar system along with the scientific community.”

Beatty is receiving the Eberhart Award for “Reunion with Mercury,” the cover story of the May 2008 issue of Sky & Telescope. In the well-illustrated article Beatty lucidly explains what scientists learned from the January 2008 flyby of Mercury by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, the first probe to visit our solar system’s innermost planet in more than 30 years. MESSENGER made a second flyby in October 2008 and a third last week, on September 29th. The spacecraft will settle into orbit around the Sun-baked world in March 2011.

“Jonathan and I spent more than two decades together on the ‘beat’ of planetary exploration,” notes Beatty. “He was a master at conveying science news with both clarity and nuance, and I am deeply humbled to be honored with this award that bears his name.”

This is Beatty’s second award from the DPS. In 2005 he won the Harold Masursky Award for Meritorious Service to Planetary Science. And, earlier this year, the American Geophysical Union gave him its 2009 Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism.

Beatty has reported on planetary science for Sky & Telescope for more than three decades. He has written more than 100 feature-length stories and countless shorter news reports. His work has appeared in newspapers such as the New York Times and Boston Globe, on National Public Radio, and in a host of book chapters. Beatty regularly speaks about science in classrooms and has been a fixture at planetary-science conferences since the 1970s. His acclaimed book “The New Solar System” is currently in its 4th edition and is used as an introductory textbook at universities across the United States.

Beatty studied geology, planetary science, and astronomy at Caltech and earned a master’s degree in science journalism at Boston University. In addition to his work for Sky & Telescope, he teaches astronomy at the Dexter and Southfield Schools in Brookline, Massachusetts, and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Dark-Sky Association.

Jonathan Eberhart (1942-2003) covered planetary sciences with exceptional curiosity and the results from early planetary-exploration missions with phenomenal inquisitiveness. In those early days, print media were the primary outlets for reporting new findings from planetary missions, and Jonathan Eberhart, writing for Science News, performed that task exceptionally well. He developed an unprecedented rapport with scientists who wished to ensureunderstood their complex reasoning.

2008 DPS Prize Recipients

Michael A’Hearn – 2008 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize recipient

Dr. Michael A’Hearn is the winner of the 2008 Gerard P. Kuiper award for outstanding contributions to planetary science. He is the Principal Investigator of NASA’s Deep Impact Mission. Noteworthy among his accomplishments is a landmark paper that analyzed 85 comets observed over 17 years, confirming the distinct compositional groupings of comets related to place of formation.

Jon D. Giorgini – 2008 Harold Masursky Award recipient

Jon D. Giorgini is the winner of the 2008 Harold Masursky Award for Meritorious Service to Planetary Science. A specialist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Jon developed and implemented the on-line Horizons system that is used by the international scientific community to generate real-time, accurate ephemeris information for more than 400,000 solar system bodies, including the sun, planets and their satellites, comets, asteroids, and spacecraft.

G. Jeffrey Taylor – 2008 Sagan Medal recipient

G. Jeffrey Taylor is the winner of the Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication in Planetary Science. At the University of Hawaii, Jeff has developed several major educational tools including educational videos; a book and curriculum materials for use in schools with the Lunar Sample Disk. However, Jeff’s most ambitious outreach project is a Web site that he started in 1996 with Linda Martel, Planetary Science Research Discoveries (PSRD).

 

2007 DPS Prize Recipients

Andrew P. Ingersoll – 2007 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize recipient

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2007 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science to Andrew P. Ingersoll, professor of Planetary Science at the California Institute of Technology. For more than 40 years, he has been a leader in the investigation of planetary atmospheres. Andy’s contributions have been wide-ranging, including fundamental studies of Venus’ runaway greenhouse effect and atmospheric tides, the general circulation of the martian atmosphere, and the meteorology of the giant planets. He has provided new and highly original insights into the circulation of the upper tropospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, and he has explored the dynamical connections between the deep Jovian atmosphere and the upper layers that are directly accessible to observation. These are fundamental to the investigation of the nature and origin of differential rotation in giant planet atmospheres. Andy is also well-known for his invaluable participation on instrument teams for interplanetary missions, including Pioneers 1 and 2, Pioneer Venus, Voyager, Mars Global Surveyor, Galileo, and Cassini, among others. He has helped to define the important atmospheric science objectives of these missions, to design the observations themselves, and to lead both the analysis and theoretical interpretation of the results. His breadth of experience, wisdom, and articulate explanations have earned him well-deserved and wide regard.

In recognition of his scientific leadership, intellect, curiosity, scientific productivity, generosity, and his passionate pursuit of solar system exploration, it is with great pleasure that the Division for Planetary Sciences awards the 2007 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize to Andrew P. Ingersoll.

Francis Nimmo – 2007 Harold C. Urey Prize recipient

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2007 Harold C. Urey Prize for outstanding achievement in planetary research by a young scientist to Francis Nimmo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at UC Santa Cruz. A theoretical planetary geophysicist of exceptionally broad interests, Francis has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the evolution of both terrestrial planets and icy satellites, using their observed surface topography and composition to investigate the evolution of forces responsible for their current states. His creative and provocative body of work has spanned the solar system, from estimates of the crustal thickness of Mercury, the surface and interior dynamics of Venus, and the evolution of the Martian crust to the interpretation of Triton’s surface ridges as formed by diurnal tidal stresses. His work incorporates estimates of core and mantle convection, tidal and radiogenic heating, crustal extension and compression, impacts, volcanism, and fluvial erosion. Francis has the skill of defining important problems, devising clever ways to solve them, and developing successful collaborations. He writes with exceptional clarity, thoroughness, and open-mindedness to the idea that even the most beautiful theory is only as strong as its observational support.

As a young planetary scientist whose work has strongly influenced current thinking about our Solar System from Mercury to Neptune, the Division for Planetary Sciences is pleased to award the 2007 Harold C. Urey Prize to Francis Nimmo.

Tom Gehrels – 2007 Harold Masursky Award recipient

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society presents the 2007 Harold Masursky Award for outstanding service to planetary science and exploration to Tom Gehrels, Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Arizona. Tom’s visionary and tireless efforts in developing the Space Sciences Series of the University of Arizona Press changed the face of planetary science. He also edited many of the early volumes in the series, thereby setting the high standard of quality for which these books have become known. It would be difficult to find anyone working in planetary science today who has not utilized some of the thirty Space Science Series volumes produced during Tom’s tenure as General Editor. For generations of graduate students, they have served as de facto textbooks, introducing them to the field and aiding them in making the transition from course work to independent research. By linking each volume to a scientific meeting devoted to a general topic, Tom created an environment in which specialists could broaden their knowledge and contribute to cross-disciplinary discussion and debate. His forceful personality helped to reinforce the revolutionary idea of collaborative authorship between rivals to provide balanced views of contentious issues. Tom’s efforts to raise financial support for publication costs helped to insure a broad readership of these invaluable volumes.

In recognition of his energetic leadership over three decades to produce the peerless Space Science Series, the Division for Planetary Sciences is pleased to present the 2007 Harold Masursky Award to Tom Gehrels.

2006 DPS Prize Recipients

Dale P. Cruikshank – 2006 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize recipient

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2006 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science to Dale P. Cruikshank, Research Scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. Cruikshank pioneered the application of infrared spectroscopy to solar system bodies, developed laboratory techniques that became tools for interpreting the observations, and has been a leader in the design of instruments for remote sensing observations from deep space planetary exploration probes. Cruikshank’s key contributions concern the detection and characterization of volatiles and organics of the surfaces of asteroids and outer solar system bodies. His discoveries, spanning four decades, confirm the early conjecture that common ices are dominant components of outer solar system bodies. With colleagues, he discovered the five ices known on Triton, three on Pluto, and water ice on satellites of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. With colleagues, he was first to find water ice in the Kuiper Belt, and methanol ice on a Centaur that links these bodies to comets. The ices he found on Triton and Pluto are the sources of the atmospheres of these two bodies, especially fitting discoveries as it was G. P. Kuiper who discovered the first satellite atmosphere, on Titan. Cruikshank pioneered thermal infrared determinations of the albedos of small bodies beyond the asteroid main belt, leading to the recognition that low- albedo material is prevalent in the outer solar system. His spectroscopic work gave the first firm evidence for complex organic solids on a planetary body (Saturn’s satellite Iapetus), and provides the basis for progress on the identification of such materials elsewhere. A distinguished scientist and a recognized leader in the planetary community, Cruikshank has participated in a number of past and present NASA missions, including Voyager, Cassini, Spitzer, and New Horizons.

For his outstanding contributions to planetary science, and especially planetary astronomy, it is with great pleasure that the Division for Planetary Sciences awards the 2006 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize to Dale P. Cruikshank.

Tristan Guillot – 2006 Harold C. Urey Prize recipient

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2006 Harold C. Urey Prize for outstanding achievement in planetary research by a young scientist to Tristan Guillot, a Charge de Recherche of the CNRS at the Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur, in Nice, France. Guillot is a recognized expert in radiative transfer and its application to the internal structures of giant planets, both inside and outside our solar system. He has developed unique insights on how to properly treat the influence of strong stellar irradiation on the evolution of the deep convective zones of giant planets, discovering that a thickening radiative zone forms at the surface as the planet’s interior cools. With colleagues, he correctly predicted that hydrogen-rich exoplanets should have higher entropies than our own gas giants, and therefore larger radii. His doctoral work showed that hydrogen-helium alone does not produce sufficient opacity to maintain Jupiter and Saturn in convective equilibrium at kilobar pressure levels. This has important implications for these planets’ history and internal structure and opens a potential role for other opacity sources. Guillot’s synthesis of Galileo probe measurements with interior equations of state has determined that Jupiter’s core is much less massive than that of Saturn and that a substantial amount of heavy elements are retained in the envelope of Jupiter — the most definitive analysis of these important quantities to date. He has also contributed to the fields of brown dwarfs, giant planet formation, and the dynamics of atmospheric flow on tidally-synchronized gas giants. He has worked as well to advance planetary science in his native France, and on the upcoming COROT and JUNO missions.

As a young scientist demonstrating outstanding achievement with great potential for future success and scientific leadership, the Division for Planetary Sciences is pleased to award the 2006 Harold C. Urey Prize to Tristan Guillot.

Gentry Lee – 2006 Harold Masursky Award recipient

Gentry Lee, Chief Engineer for the Planetary Flight Systems Directorate of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has been awarded the prestigious Harold Masursky Award, presented by the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences.

The Masursky Award recognizes individuals for outstanding service to planetary science and exploration through engineering, managerial, programmatic, or public service activities. The award citation states, “Lee has set the standard for systems engineering in the complex world of robotic planetary missions, and moreover, possesses the desire to impart this knowledge to those around him, especially young engineers.”

Lee was chief engineer for the Galileo project from 1977 to 1988 and, after working in a variety of positions on the Viking project from 1968 to 1976, was director of science analysis and mission planning during the Viking operations activities. In his current position, Lee is responsible for the engineering integrity of all the robotic planetary missions managed by JPL. His major recent work included not only the oversight of all engineering aspects of Spirit and Opportunity, the twin rover missions to Mars that landed in January 2004, but also the implementation of NASA’s successful Deep Impact and Stardust missions.

“Gentry Lee is one of the true heroes of deep space exploration,” said JPL director Dr. Charles Elachi. “His work has contributed to the success of JPL missions for more than 35 years.”

In addition to his engineering work, Lee has been an active novelist, television producer, computer game designer, media columnist and lecturer. He was the late Carl Sagan’s partner in the creation, design, development and implementation of the Emmy and Peabody award-winning public television series “Cosmos.” Lee has also co-authored four bestsellers with Arthur C. Clarke and written three more successful solo novels.

Lee’s previous awards include the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1976 and the Distinguished Service Medal, NASA’s highest award, in 2005.

Gentry Lee received a Bachelor of Arts degree, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Texas at Austin in 1963 and a Master of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964. He then attended the University of Glasgow in Scotland on a Marshall Fellowship for one year.

David H. Grinspoon – 2006 Sagan Medal recipient

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2006 Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication by a Planetary Scientist to David H. Grinspoon, the Curator of Astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Few practicing researchers in planetary science have devoted so much effort to public outreach, and done it so effectively, as David Grinspoon. He has a special gift in being able to communicate exciting ideas at the leading edge of planetary and astrobiological research to the interested public. In his prize-winning popular book, “Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life,” and his earlier “Venus Revealed,” one encounters amazingly engaging works that seek to place diverse aspects of life in the universe, and of our sister planet, into larger cultural contexts. The reader is treated to fresh, “outside the box” perceptions, and asked to stretch his or her mind in unexpected directions, an inevitably intensely rewarding experience!

Grinspoon received several awards recognizing his excellent teaching while at the University of Colorado. In more recent years, he has traveled and lectured extensively, appeared on radio and in television science documentaries, and written popular articles for magazines and Op Ed pieces for the nation’s leading newspapers. In Grinspoon’s interactions with the public there is visible joy and enthusiasm about planetary science and science in general, all supported by his profound sense of science as an ethical human enterprise. He is one of just a few excellent active planetary science researchers who self-describe their careers in education and public outreach as being of equal or greater importance. Grinspoon thus follows in the tradition of Carl Sagan himself, and like Sagan in his time, Grinspoon is nearly unique in making science truly hip.

For his strong dedication to excellence in communicating planetary science to the public, and illuminating the numinous, the Division for Planetary Sciences is pleased to present the 2006 Carl Sagan Medal to David H. Grinspoon.

Dr. Grinspoon is curator of astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, has been awarded the 2006 Carl Sagan Medal by the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society. The prestigious medal was created to recognize scientists whose efforts have significantly contributed to a public understanding of, and enthusiasm for, planetary science.

Grinspoon’s research focuses on the evolution of Earthlike planets elsewhere in the universe. He is a recognized expert on the planet Venus, and he serves as an advisor to NASA on space exploration strategy. Grinspoon is particularly interested in improving our ability to understand and predict climate change, and the implications of climate change on the habitability of different planets, including Earth in the future.

Though he is an accomplished researcher whose scientific findings have been published in journals such as Science and Nature, Grinspoon has always placed a high priority on sharing his knowledge of science with the general public. In 2004, he won the Pen Center Literary Award for Research Nonfiction for his book Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life , which explores the possibility of other life in the universe from scientific, historical and philosophical perspectives. The book won praise from Publishers Weekly, Scientific American, WIRED magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Kirkus Reviews (which gave Lonely Planets a starred review), and Booklist , which said, “Grinspoon comes across like a buddy in a bar, trying out ideas over a beer or a few.”

The success of Lonely Planets was a highlight in a long list of other accomplishments. Grinspoon’s first book, Venus Revealed: A New Look Below the Clouds of Our Mysterious Twin Planet, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and his popular writing has appeared in Scientific American, Natural History, and The New York Times, among other publications. In addition, he has been featured on National Public Radio, PBS, BBC World Service, and was a regular guest on The John Batchelor Show on the ABC Radio Network.

2005 DPS Prize Recipients

William Hubbard, 2005 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize recipient

The Division for Planetary Science of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2005 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science to William B. Hubbard, Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Arizona. Hubbard’s work has centered on the study of the internal structure and evolution of giant planets and brown dwarfs, as well as on the use of stellar occultations to study the atmospheres of the outer planets. Hubbard’s key early contributions on the internal thermal state and structure of Jupiter and Saturn established the framework for our current understanding of the jovian planets, particularly that these planets possess fully convective envelopes. Hubbard was the first to extend the work done by Henyey and Hayashi into the mass range of giant planets. He developed the basic techniques that are widely used to compute the evolution of giant planets. Hubbard’s book on Planetary Interiors is a thorough compendium of the remarkable breadth of his knowledge in this field. Hubbard has also contributed a substantial body of work on the use of stellar occultations to study the atmospheres of planets, beginning with the occultation of β Scorpii by Jupiter and Io, which led to a direct measurement of the scale height of Jupiter’s atmosphere. His pioneering work in the study of stellar occultations by solar system bodies led to his confirmation of the atmosphere of Pluto and co-discovery of ring arcs around Neptune. He also made significant contributions to the theory of central flashes and the intensity fluctuations in occultation light curves. In recognition of his lifetime of work on the energy transport, internal structure, and evolution of giant planets, extrasolar planets, and brown dwarfs, and for outstanding contributions to planetary science, it is with great pleasure that the Division for Planetary Science awards the 2005 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize to William B. Hubbard.

The Kuiper Prize is awarded annually to an active researcher in the DPS to recognize and honor outstanding contributions to planetary science. It is awarded to scientists whose achievements have most advanced our understanding of the planetary system.

David Nesvorny, 2005 Harold C. Urey Prize recipient

The Division for Planetary Science (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) awards the 2005 Harold C. Urey Prize for outstanding achievement in planetary research by a young scientist to David Nesvorny, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder CO. Nesvorny is recognized for his exemplary record of achievement in the study of the dynamical evolution of small bodies in the solar system. His early work introduced the idea of three-body resonances, which are now understood to be a major cause of chaos in the orbits of planets and play a major role in the delivery of asteroids to near-Earth orbits. Nesvorny’s study of clustering in the asteroid belt led to the discovery of the tiny Karin asteroid family, which he dated at an age of 5.8 million years. He has also identified several other recent breakup events, with the largest being the formation of the Veritas family 8.3 million years ago. These results are now helping scientists to study asteroid geology, impact physics and effects of space weathering. Nesvorny has also been a pioneer in the modeling of the dynamical evolution of asteroids by the thermal radiation drag force and torques. He helped demonstrate that these effects spread out asteroid families in semi-major axis and modify asteroid spin rates and obliquities. As a young scientist demonstrating outstanding achievement with great potential for future success and scientific leadership, the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society is pleased to award the 2005 Harold C. Urey Prize to David Nesvorny.

The Urey Prize is awarded annually to a member of the DPS to recognize and encourage outstanding achievements in planetary science by a young scientist.

Rosaly Lopes, 2005 Sagan Medal recipient

Rosaly Lopes

The Division for Planetary Science of the American Astronomical Society awards the 2005 Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication by a planetary scientist to Dr. Rosaly Lopes, a Principal Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and an Investigation Scientist for the Titan Radar Mapper on the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. Throughout her career studying planetary volcanism, Lopes has been an enthusiastic and untiring communicator of planetary science to the public. Early in her career she served as Curator of Modern Astronomy and Deputy Head of Astronomy at the Old Royal Observatory Greenwich, where she was heavily engaged in interactions with the public and media. Since joining the JPL Galileo Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer team in 1991, she has taken a leading role in communicating Galileo’s results to the public and teachers. Lopes is particularly active with Hispanic groups, and has been an inspiration for many young people in her native Brazil. She has worked tirelessly to bring science to Hispanic communities, and has been very active in the encouragement of women and minorities in science. She has written a popular book about volcanoes on Earth, and has edited an undergraduate book on planetary volcanism, in which all of the contributors are female scientists. She has always been extremely active in giving public and school talks throughout California, as well as in Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, and Italy. Lopes has conducted all of her public outreach activities while maintaining an extremely impressive scientific research program. For her strong dedication to excellence in communicating planetary science to the public, the Division for Planetary Science is pleased to present the 2005 Carl Sagan Medal to Rosaly Lopes.

J. Kelly Beatty, 2005 Harold Masursky Award recipient

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society presents the 2005 Harold Masursky Award for outstanding service to planetary science and exploration to J. Kelly Beatty, Executive Editor of Sky & Telescope magazine and Editor of Night Sky magazine. For more than 30 years, Beatty has been a leading communicator and interpreter of planetary science through his writing, editing, broadcasting, and public speaking. He has been equally adept at explaining the results of professional research and enabling his audience to vicariously experience the excitement of doing that research. It is a testament to his deep understanding of planetary science, and his accuracy and integrity in reporting it, that numerous researchers have invited him to participate in their observing campaigns and trusted him to report on them from ‘the inside.’ The New Solar System, a book that Beatty conceived and edited and that has been translated into several languages over the past two decades, is one of the most comprehensive and accessible overviews of planetary science for the public. Beatty has also played a key role in the training and mentoring of other journalists through his internship program at Sky & Telescope and his exemplary leadership of the press at meetings. Often he will ask a key question that focuses the attention of the rest of the press, and indeed of many researchers, on the true significance of a new scientific result. Beatty serves as a vital link between planetary scientists and the public that supports them. In recognition of his Meritorious Service to Planetary Science, the Division for Planetary Sciences is pleased to present the 2005 Harold Masursky Award to J. Kelly Beatty.