The 2008 Jean Dominique Cassini Medal & Honorary Membership is awarded to Jean-Pierre Bibring for his outstanding contributions to planetology over many years. In particular, his work on understanding the history of Mars in terms of the state of water on its surface is one of the key insights in recent years.
Jean-Pierre Bibring is a researcher in the laboratory ‘Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale’ and Professor at the University of Paris XI-Orsay. The main contribution of Jean-Pierre to the solar system exploration is the leadership of the OMEGA experiment aboard the ESA Mars Express spacecraft. OMEGA is a spectro-imaging instrument aiming at acquiring spectra of the surface and the atmosphere between 0,35 and 5,2 µm. Such observations allow mapping the main minerals and exploring the details of the Martian geology and the processes that modified the surface.
OMEGA gives a new view of Mars, and it is impossible to cite all the results. This experiment led to two major discoveries:
- The first direct detection of water ice at the South Pole of Mars.
- The characterisation of three ages of Martian geological history, namely the “phyllocian”, the “theiikian”, and the “siderikian” eras.
This later is probably the major achievement in European Planetary science in the last 5 years.
Jean-Pierre Bibring is also a very active member of the ESA Rosetta mission science community, being PI of the CIVA experiment (IR and Visible analyser) onboard the lander, and one of the lead scientists for the lander investigations.
He is also co-I of the Cassini VIMS experiment, which routinely delivers excellent results of the Saturnian system and of the Titan moon.
Jean-Pierre Bibring has led or contributed to many scientific articles and books, the most famous being “Le Système solaire” (1987, 2003).
Video of the Jean Dominique Cassini Medal Lecture given at the EGU General Assembly 2008.