Press Release

Dale P. Cruikshank – 2006 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize Winner Division for Planetary Sciences (American Astronomical Society)

By SpaceRef Editor
October 10, 2006
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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.

Contact Information:

Dr. Dale. P. Cruikshank
Research Scientist
Astrophysics Branch (Mail Stop 245-6)
NASA Ames Research Center

SpaceRef staff editor.