May 12, 2000

Colloquium Speaker: James W. Head


Dr. James W. Head is a graduate of Washington and Lee University and received his Ph.D. from Brown University where he is currently Professor of Geological Sciences. From 1968 to 1972, while serving at NASA Headquarters (Bellcomm Inc.) he participated in selecting the lunar landing sites, in training of the Astronauts in surface exploration, and in the preliminary analysis of the lunar samples returned by the Astronauts. For these activities he received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and the Geological Society of America Special Commendation. He has continued to be active in the training of the NASA Shuttle Astronauts. In 1973-1974 he served as Interim Director of the Lunar Science Institute in Houston, Texas. He served on President-Elect Reagan's Transition Team on Space, and on the Center for Strategic and International Studies Steering Committee on the Future of U.S. Space Policy. He has been Chairman of the NASA Solar System Exploration Management Council, the Planetary Geology Division of the Geological Society of America, USRA Council of Institutions, the NASA Goddard Visiting Science Committee, and the NASA Planetary Geology Proposal Review Panel. He is or has been a member of the Council of the Smithsonian Institution, the NASA Space and Earth Sciences Advisory Committee, AAU Space Science Working Group, the USRA Board of Trustees, the NASA Magellan Project Science Group, and the NAS Committee on Earth Sciences. He has been the Director of the NASA Northeast Regional Data Center and has served on the editorial board of several journals. He has been elected to Fellowship in AAAS, the Geological Society of America, the Meteoritical Society, and the AGU. Dr. Head's research centers on the study of the processes that form and modify the surfaces, crusts and lithospheres of planets, how these processes vary with time, and how such processes interact to produce the historical record preserved on the planets. He is particularly interested in volcanism and tectonism, having done field work on active volcanoes in Hawaii and at Mount St. Helens. He also participates as an investigator and in experiments on NASA and Russian Space Missions. He has published over 230 articles in professional journals. In 1992 he received the NASA Public Service Medal for exceptional contributions to the Magellan Mission to Venus throughout all its phases. He has served as Chairman of the International Union of Geological Sciences Commission on Comparative Planetology, and on the US delegation of the US/USSR Joint Working Group on Solar System Exploration, the NASA delegation to the Interagency Consultative Group, and on the NASA Advisory Council Task Force on International Relations. He was a founding member of the International Space University, and in 1989 was inducted into the National Academy of Astronautics. He has worked closely with Soviet and Russian space scientists. He was named the R.I. Case Professor of the Year for 1990, James Manning Professor of the Department of Geological Sciences in 1990, and Louis & Elizabeth Scherck Professor in 1995. He received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Washington & Lee University in 1995.


Colloquium Topic: Water on Mars: Recent Results on Oceans and Polar Deposits

Deposits has enabled scientists to develop more specific tests for the presence and evolution of water on Mars. These new data are consistent with hypotheses calling on the presence of ocean-scale bodies of water in the northern lowlands in middle Mars history. In addition, circumpolar south polar deposits show evidence for being emplaced as glaciers which melted back hundreds of kilometers in middle Mars history, causing vast quantities of water to drain into surrounding lowland basins. Evidence for these factors and implications for the volatile evolution of Mars will be discussed.