The 2006 Jean Dominique Cassini Medal & Honorary Membership is awarded to Risto Pellinen for his outstanding contribution to the study of atmospheres, ionospheres and magnetospheres of Earthlike planets, and for his central role in Europe in the promotion of the exploration of their surfaces using planetary landers.
Risto Pellinen is responsible for several new inventions in auroral substorm morphology and current systems, including the development of a theoretical method to explain the production of high-energy particles in planetary magnetospheres. He started the first space project in Finland in 1985 and has since then been the chief scientist or director of 30 externally funded international space projects. In 1987 he proposed the idea to start developing small 60-100 kg planetary landers for mainly meteorological purposes. In the same year he also presented the first concept of satellite-borne ozone layer observations to be proposed for the EOS Call for Instrument proposals. This has led to a development where Finland (FMI) has two major programmes in this field. In 1993 he proposed a near-Earth ground-based real-time ionospheric monitoring system, MIRACLE, to support the Cluster mission. The network of 2 radars, 8 digital auroral cameras and 25 magnetometers has been operated in Northern Europe. He also championed a Finnish data processing center for satellite ozone data to be located in Northern Finland. In 1999 he proposed a data receiving station for the EOS-AURA OMI data to be established in Northern Finland. At the moment the station is receiving data from three NASA satellites.