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June 24, 2011

CRISM Team Members Receive Major NASA Awards

MRO spacecraft
APL's Scott Murchie (center) receives the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal from NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden (right) and NASA Associate Administrator Christopher Scolese (left) on June 30.

APL's Scott Murchie, Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) Principal Investigator, will be awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest honor that NASA bestows to an individual working outside the government. The medal is granted only to individuals whose singular accomplishments contributed substantially to the NASA mission. Murchie is receiving the award in recognition of his leadership of CRISM, which flies aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

In a separate ceremony, Murchie will also accept two NASA Public Service Group Achievement Awards on behalf of the MRO CRISM Team: one for developing and operating the CRISM instrument and processing and distributing the data, and one for analyzing the data and publishing the results, thus advancing the understanding of the Martian surface, its composition, and its evolution. CRISM is one of NASA's high-technology instruments on the MRO, designed to seek traces of past and present water on the Martian surface.

Murchie will receive the Public Service award during a ceremony at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC, on June 30, 2011; the Group Achievement awards will be presented July 19, 2011, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"I'm incredibly flattered by this honor from NASA, which is really an acknowledgment of the fine team of people I work with, on CRISM and also on MESSENGER and a decade ago on NEAR," Murchie said. "APL has a great team mentality, and it's an honor to be part of that."

Murchie studies the surface composition of Mars, asteroids, and the Moon using imaging and spectroscopy. He also participated in the development of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) on MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging), the NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury. He contributes to the mission imaging strategy and participates in the analysis of MDIS and Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer spectral measurements of Mercury's surface.

APL provided and operates CRISM, one of six instruments on the MRO. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the MRO project and the Mars Exploration Program for the NASA Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more about CRISM, see http://crism.jhuapl.edu. For more about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit http://www.nasa.gov/mro.