NASA Science Highlight: Planetary Program Support
Announcement from Dr. Vishnu Reddy; Division of Planetary Sciences
Science Writer, Samantha Harvey
Dr. Joseph Veverka, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University was awarded the Gerard P. Kuiper Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science. Dr. Veverka has made outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science during a career that now spans five decades. He has to his credit a lifetime of outstanding contributions, that, in sum, represent a monumental increase in our understanding of planets and, in particular, small bodies -- the moons, asteroids, and cometary nuclei in our planetary system. Dr. Veverka was the former James A. Weeks Professor of Physical Sciences and Professor of Astronomy. He was the Deputy Team leader of the Galileo Imaging Science Team, and the Principal Science Investigator in the NEAR mission exploration of the asteroids Mathilde and Eros. He was also a member of the Voyager and Cassini imaging teams and led the exploration of comet nuclei on the Deep Impact and Stardust-NExT missions to Comet 9P/Tempel 1 and the EPOXI mission to Comet 103P/Hartley 2.
Veverka earned his bachelor's degree in physics from Queen's University, Kingston, Ont., in 1964 and his doctorate from Harvard in 1970, where he was a prot?g? of the noted astronomer Fred Whipple. Veverka joined the Cornell faculty in 1970, serving as astronomy chair 1999-2007. Veverka worked as a scientist on many NASA planetary science missions, including Mariner 9, Viking, Voyager Mars Observer and Mars Global Surveyor, Galileo, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission and as the principal investigator on NASA's Discovery mission CONTOUR and a co-investigator of the Deep Impact mission.
According to DPS, The society explained that his contributions represent "a monumental increase in our understanding of planets and, in particular, small bodies - the moons, asteroids and cometary nuclei in our planetary system." As a planetary scientist, Veverka has defined the field of quantitative study of small bodies in the solar system for a generation - a generation populated by his students and many associates, the group said.
Significance to Solar System Exploration:
Peering into the cosmos, Veverka focused on high-resolution imaging and photometry of planetary, asteroid and comet surfaces. He was one of the first to demonstrate that asteroids have well-developed regoliths (loose rock and dust that cover celestial body surfaces) and that Saturn's moon Titan has a thick, cloudy atmosphere.
Last Updated: 6 September 2013