May 1, 2015
Space research in many ways was pioneered when APL’s James Van Allen led the testing of captured V-2 rockets via instrumentation that took the first pictures at high altitude showing Earth’s curvature, revealed the UV spectrum of the Sun, and measured high altitude cosmic rays, among other things. When Van Allen went to the State University of Iowa (SUI), he built the instruments for Explorers 1-3 and discovered the Van Allen Belts of radiation circling the Earth, while Weiffenbach and Guier at APL were establishing the principle of Doppler navigation by tracking Sputnik 1 that led to the Transit Navigation satellite constellation. But Transit had to operate in the radiation-hostile Van Allen Belts and SUI built Injun 1 to investigate the operating environment –while the author became a Van Allen graduate student in 1961 and did a Master’s thesis on APL's solid state radiation detectors flown on Injun 1. Soon after graduation and a stint as Assistant Professor at SUI, the author arrived at APL and has been here ever since. The engineering and space science work by a number of gifted and dedicated leaders and technical staff over the past 55 years have resulted in a large number of unique accomplishments ranging Transit to Uhuru, to MSX, to NEAR, to MESSENGER, to New Horizons, and to the Van Allen probes, to name just a few. It was all accomplished in an environment that encouraged innovation and prudent risk while minimizing bureaucracy and fostering teamwork. It has been an exhilarating ride!
Dr. Stamatios Krimigis received his B. Physics from the University of Minnesota (1961), his M.S (1963) and Ph.D. (1965) in Physics from the University of Iowa, and served on the faculty there. In 1968 he moved to the Applied Physics laboratory of Johns Hopkins University, became Chief Scientist in 1980, Space Department Head in 1991, and Emeritus Head in 2004. The Space Department has designed, built and operated more than 65 spacecraft, and expanded its activities to planetary missions during his tenure. He is Principal Investigator on several NASA spacecraft, including Voyagers 1 and 2 to the Outer Planets and the Voyager Interstellar Mission, and the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan. He and colleagues proposed and implemented the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission and oversaw its landing on the asteroid Eros on February 12, 2000, the first ever landing on an asteroid. He has designed and built instruments that have flown to all eight planets, and also the New Horizons mission currently headed to Pluto. He has published more than 560 papers in peer-reviewed journals and books on the physics of the sun, interplanetary medium, planetary magnetospheres, and the heliosphere, with over 11,500 citations. He is recipient of NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal three times (1981, 1986, 2014), is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), American Geophysical Union (AGU), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), recipient of COSPAR’s Space Science Award in 2002, a recipient of the Basic Sciences Award of the International Academy of Astronautics (1994) where he chairs the Board of Trustees for Basic Sciences, awardee of the Council of European Aerospace Societies CEAS Gold Medal for 2011, recipient of the Jean Dominique Cassini Medal of the European Geophysical Union, the AIAA James Van Allen Space Environments Medal, both for 2014, the Trophy for Lifetime Achievement by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in 2015, a member of the Academy of Athens since 2005 occupying the Chair of “Science of Space”, and served as chairman of Greece’s National Council of Research and Technology (2010-2013). He holds Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of the Aegean, Athens, and the International Hellenic University.