Press Release

Illuminating the Sun: Lockheed Martin solar scientists receive American Astronomical Society Popular Writing Award

By SpaceRef Editor
June 6, 2002
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Dr. Carolus J. Schrijver, staff physicist at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto, and Dr. Alan M. Title, principal scientist at the ATC, have been selected as recipients of the 2002 Popular Writing Award from the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society. The award was given for a two-part series entitled “Today’s Science of the Sun” that Schrijver and Title authored for Sky & Telescope magazine’s February and March 2001 issues.

“Both Karel and Alan have an uncanny gift for explaining complex and arcane solar physics in a disarmingly lucid and comprehensible fashion,” said Aram Mika, vice president of the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center. “We’re very fortunate to have such talented people here who have the dynamic range to engage at every level – from serious research and scholarship to the popular press.”

In the first installment of their article, “Today’s Science of the Sun”, in the February 2001 issue of Sky & Telescope, Schrijver and Title explain why they study the Sun:

“We live next to a star. It rises every morning, sets every night, and is often taken for granted. Few people know our neighbor well, certainly not well enough to appreciate its beautiful and ever-changing appearance. Yet that variability affects us in many ways. It renders spacecraft inoperable, causes outbursts of radiation dangerous to humans in space, sends global-positioning systems off their marks, knocks out power grids, apparently forces climate changes, and sparks pretty auroras.

“Given the potential for damage, it makes sense to study and try to predict the Sun’s eruptions and their impact on Earth. But there is much more to be gained from solar research. We wish to understand the central role that our star played in the origin and continued existence of life on our planet. The Sun provides us with an unparalled view of processes that are important throughout the universe. Finally, driven as we are by our curiosity, we study the Sun because it is there.”

Dr. Schrijver works primarily on data from the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), and from the Transition-Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) for which he also coordinates daily science operations. His research remains focused on solar activity and on the solar-stellar connection, with particular emphasis on magnetic fields, atmospheric acoustic waves, and the heating and dynamics of solar and stellar outer atmospheres. He began his study of astronomy in 1976 at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, where he stayed until completion of his thesis on the magnetic activity of Sun. Before coming to Lockheed Martin in 1995, he worked at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Boulder, Colorado, the Sacramento Peak Observatory in New Mexico, and the European Space Agency.

Dr. Title has been with the Lockheed Martin since 1971. He currently is the U.S. Principal Investigator responsible for development of the Focal Plane Instrument Package on the Japanese Solar-B mission. The primary goal of the Solar-B mission, scheduled for launch in 2005, is to understand the physical processes responsible for dynamics and heating of the outer solar atmosphere. He is also the Principal Investigator for NASA’s solar telescope on the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) mission. The TRACE telescope was developed under Title’s direction at the ATC. Additionally, Title serves as a Co-Investigator responsible for the Michelson-Doppler Imager (MDI) science instrument on the NASA-European Space Agency Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). MDI, also designed and built at the ATC, uses optical techniques to measure shaking at the visible surface of the Sun that yields insight into activity and structure deep in the solar interior. In July 2001, Title received the Hale Prize from the American Astronomical Society. The award, an Honorary Prize in memory of George Ellery Hale, is conferred once every two years to a scientist for outstanding contributions, over an extended period of time, to the field of solar astronomy. In August 2000, Title was presented a NASA Public Service Award for outstanding science achievement and vital contributions to NASA’s scientific research programs.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company is one of the major operating units of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space Systems designs, develops, tests, manufactures, and operates a variety of advanced technology systems for military, civil and commercial customers. Chief products include a full-range of space launch systems, including heavy-lift capability, ground systems, remote sensing and communications satellites for commercial and government customers, advanced space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, and integration of advanced-technology systems, products, and services. The Corporation’s core businesses are systems integration, space, aeronautics, and technology services. Employing more than 125,000 people worldwide, Lockheed Martin had 2001 sales surpassing $24 billion.

For more information about Lockheed Martin Space Systems, see our website.

SpaceRef staff editor.