William Borucki, science principal investigator for NASA's Kepler mission at the agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in California, is the recipient of the 2013 Henry Draper Medal awarded by the National Academy of Sciences.
Borucki is honored for his founding concept and visionary leadership during the development of Kepler, which uses transit photometry to determine the frequency and kinds of planets around other stars.
"This is a commendable recognition for Bill Borucki and the Kepler mission," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It is well deserved and a tribute both to Bill's dedication and persistence and the fantastic and exciting results from Kepler."
Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the "habitable zone," the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the surface of an orbiting planet. Kepler is detecting planets and possible candidates with a wide range of sizes and orbital distances to help scientists better understand our place in the galaxy.
"It has been a privilege to participate in the initial steps in the search for life in our galaxy. I would like to thank all who have worked with me to make this possible," said Borucki.
Borucki earned a Master of Science degree in physics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1962 and joined Ames as a space scientist that same year. The results of Borucki's early work developing spectroscopic instrumentation to determine the plasma properties of hypervelocity shock waves was used in the design of the heat shields for the Apollo mission. In June, Borucki celebrated 50 years of service at NASA.
The Henry Draper Medal is awarded every four years for an outstanding, recently published contribution to astrophysical research and carries with it an award of $15,000.
The award will be presented at a ceremony April 28, during the National Academy of Sciences' 150th annual meeting in Washington. Ames manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with JPL at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters.
For information about the Kepler mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler