NAU Names Jonathan Lunine Winner of the 2000 Arthur Adel Award

April 24, 2000

Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff has named University of Arizona planetary sciences Professor Jonathan I. Lunine as winner of the 2000 Arthur Adel Award for Scientific Achievement.

Lunine will receive an engraved plaque and give the award lecture at 7 p.m. Monday, April 10, in the NAU Liberal Arts Building. His lecture is "Cassini-Huygens: Anatomy of a Planetary Mission," which Lunine calls" the most ambitious mission in the 40-year history of planetary exploration."

The Adel award is given in recognition of distinguished accomplishments in furthering the national goals of science and technology. And it is given in memory of Arthur Adel, said NAU physics and astronomy department chairman Barry Lutz.

Adel was "father of research" at NAU because of the external (non-university) grants he won for scientific research, Lutz said. Adel founded the NAU Campus Observatory, a stone structure built on central campus in 1950. The observatory houses a 24-inch telescope now used primarily by astronomy students and club members, Lutz added.

The Arthur Adel prize, first given in 1995, goes to "strong players in science who make things happen," Lutz said. The recipients may or may not be well known, but they all are involved in critical behind-the-scenes science efforts that often go unrecognized, he added.

Lunine is well known for his research on the evolution of brown-dwarf stars, the formation of planets, giant planet evolution, the evolution of atmosphere and surface processes on Saturn's moon, Titan, and organic chemistry leading to the origin of life. He is an interdisciplinary scientist on the Cassini mission to Saturn and was a guest investigator on the Voyager mission in the late 1980s. He is author of the book, "Earth: Evolution of a Habitable World," (Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Lunine's prestigious science prizes include the American Geophysical Union's James B. Macelwane Medal, the American Astronomical Society's Harold C. Urey Prize, and Russia's The Zeldovich Award of COSPAR's Commission B.

But fewer know how effective Lunine has been as a scientist on several NASA and other organization committees, Lutz said. Lunine is the past chair of NASA' s Solar System Exploration Subcommittee. He is a former member of the Space Studies Board (SSB) Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration, and chaired the SSB Steering Group for the Workshop on Substellar Mass Objects.

Lunine currently co-chairs the SSB committee on the Origin and Evolution of Life. SSB is a committee of the National Research Council, the operative arm of the National Academy of Sciences, advisor to the federal government.

Lunine is associate director of the Arizona/NASA Space Grant Program, which pays for undergraduate students to work with faculty mentors in research and provides other student opportunities.