The 2011 Jean Dominique Cassini Medal & Honorary Membership is awarded to Jean-Pierre Lebreton for his scientific leadership in ESA’s Huygens mission to Titan, which made it an outstanding success, his involvement in the Rosetta and Venus Express missions, and his work as Co-Chair of the Europa Jupiter System Mission.
Jean-Pierre Lebreton is a planetary scientist specialised in plasma physics. Under his scientific leadership, the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan has been probably the most successful planetary exploration mission of recent years. This outstanding success would not have been possible without the dedication and the extraordinary involvement of Jean-Pierre Lebreton, who was the Huygens (ESA’s Titan probe) Project Scientist. The outstandingly successful Huygens probe mission has completely revolutionised our understanding of Titan, revealing one of the most interesting worlds in the Solar System. Furthermore, the Cassini mission is now continuing the exploration of the Saturnian system in its extended phase, continuing the legacy that Jean-Pierre and his European and US colleagues have set up, and Jean-Pierre remains the Project Scientist from the ESA side. He is also in the team working on the Rosetta spacecraft and, in particular, he is involved with the Plasma Consortium Experiment. He led the divisional activities on the Tethered Satellite System and is working for the Venus Express mission. His fields of interests range from listening to meteors to observing distant planets. Currently he is heading the ESA involvement in the Europa Jupiter System Mission, aiming to investigate the emergence of habitable worlds around the giant planets, with emphasis on Europa and Ganymede. He has been active in outreach activities, and was outreach coordinator for Europlanet under FP6. Overall, he is a widely respected and popular member of the planetary scientific community and has borne successfully the burden of leading one of the most complex European scientific projects in history to a successful conclusion, allowing generations of planetologists to work on unique data and make important discoveries. For his work and leadership on Huygens he has received several awards and distinctions, including the NASA Group Achievement Award. He was awarded the French ICARE prize in recognition for his contribution to media and outreach activities during the mission. He is a recipient of the Marcel Dassault Prize of the French Académie des Sciences. He is a member of the French Air and Space Academy, of the American Geophysical Union and the European Geosciences Union.
Video of the Jean Dominique Cassini Medal Lecture given at the EGU General Assembly 2011.