The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) has awarded its 2004 Carl Sagan Medal to Dr. David Morrison of the NASA Ames Research Center. The Sagan Medal is awarded annually to an active researcher in the DPS for long-term excellence in the communication of planetary science to the public. The Sagan Medal will be presented to Morrison at DPS 2004, which will convene November 8-12 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Morrison is Senior Scientist for the Astrobiology Institute at Ames, which is located in Moffett Field, California. Throughout his scientific career as an expert on solar system small bodies and as an investigator for numerous spacecraft missions, including Mariner 10, Voyager, and Galileo, Morrison also has enthusiastically dedicated himself to sharing the excitement of planetary exploration with the public. For two decades, Morrison generated a widely-praised and widely-used series of slide and information sets, featuring the best planetary images available; he also authored informational books for the general public on the Voyager flybys of Jupiter and Saturn. Morrison has given hundreds of public lectures and has appeared for many years on radio and television explaining planetary science in everyday language. As President of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Morrison devoted himself to encouraging and supporting the educational work of the society and also chaired the ASP Long-Term Aims Committee, which set out the goals and activities for public outreach that the organization is still following today. He is co-author of one of the first textbooks in planetary science. Morrison and co-authors are also successors in the continuation and revision of the original George Abell series of astronomy textbooks, reaching students worldwide, providing for many the basis for their only college science course. He has been instrumental in illuminating the scientific basis for potential hazards due to asteroid and comet impacts through refereed papers, popular articles and books, and is responsible for NEO News (with about 800 subscribers) and for the Impact Hazard website, http://impact.arc.nasa.gov/. His educational impact also continues through the coordination of activities for the NASA Astrobiology Institute, with special attention to the content of undergraduate courses in this new interdisciplinary field.
The DPS is the largest organization of professional planetary scientists in the world. More information on the annual DPS meeting and this year's prize winners, including an image of Dr. Morrison, can be found on the DPS web site at http://www.aas.org/~dps/dps.html.