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European Geosciences Union

Jonathan I. Lunine

Jonathan I. Lunine
Jonathan I. Lunine

The 2015 Jean Dominique Cassini Medal & Honorary Membership is awarded to Jonathan I. Lunine for his key discoveries and his seminal contributions in planetary sciences and exobiology, his leadership and instrumental participation in the design and implementation of space-exploration missions, and his pivotal role in space-science policy.

Jonathan Lunine, a professor at Cornell University and the Director of the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, is a planetary scientist specialising in astrobiology, the outer Solar System, and the formation of our Solar System. His work has led to significant advances in the formation of planets and of habitable worlds in our neighbourhood and around other stars, with particular emphasis on Saturn’s satellite Titan. He has more than 300 peer-reviewed publication and several first-author books.

He made outstanding contributions to the ongoing Cassini–Huygens mission and to planetary science in general as a Cassini interdisciplinary scientist since 1990. He first supported the development of the Huygens probe, then the probe’s mission into Titan’s atmosphere, and finally ongoing Titan investigations. He co-chairs both the Cassini Titan Working Group and the Cassini Icy Satellites Working Group, providing excellent leadership and decision-making for these two disciplines. He also works with the Cassini radar team, as well as continuing to work on mass-spectrometer data from the Huygens probe. In addition, he is a co-investigator on the Juno mission and a member of the science team for the James Webb Space Telescope. He is also supporting proposed Discovery and New Frontiers missions, including a Titan lake lander, and is the Principal Investigator for a Saturn probe mission.

Lunine is also at the heart of the dissemination of planetary sciences and the diffusion of knowledge towards young people, having delivered a considerable number of lectures and public conferences. His influence on space policy and strategic planning has been very important, through the many committees in which he participated or which he chaired for NASA and the US National Academy of Sciences.

For his outstanding research and accomplishments in the field of planetary sciences he has received a great number of recognitions and awards, among which the James B. Macelwane Medal of the American Geophysical Union, the Zeldovich Award of Commission B of COSPAR, and the Harold C. Urey Prize of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.

Jonathan Lunine is a highly deserving recipient of the EGU 2015 Cassini Union Medal and Honorary Membership, not only because of all this, but also because he has been instrumental in effective collaborative efforts between Europe and the US, and has actively participated and served in the EGU Planetary Sciences Division in the past several years.