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May 19, 2011

Arizona State University planetologist Professor Jim Bell is the 2011 recipient of the Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication in Planetary Science. The award is named after distinguished planetary scientist Carl Sagan (1934-1996), who, through public lectures, television, and books, made significant contributions to the public’s understanding of planetary science.

The Sagan Medal was created by the Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society to recognize and honor the outstanding contributions to scientific communication of an active planetologist to the general public. It is awarded to scientists whose efforts have contributed significantly to public understanding and enthusiasm for planetary science. Bell is the twelfth recipient of the Sagan Medal and the first from Arizona State University.

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As a faculty member of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU since the start of the year, Bell’s professional interests focus primarily on geology. , geochemistry and mineralogy of planets, moons, asteroids and comets using data obtained from telescopes and space missions. He is widely recognized in the planetary scientific community for his cutting-edge research on Mars and for being an extremely active and prolific public communicator of science and space exploration.

Bell has been heavily involved in many NASA robotic space exploration missions including Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Exploration Rover, Mars Odyssey Orbiter, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Mars Science Laboratory rover mission. . As a member of the Mars Exploration Rover team, he was the lead scientist in charge of the Panoramic Color Camera, a stereoscopic imaging system on the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.

Bell’s strong involvement in NASA missions goes hand in hand with his lifelong commitment to raising awareness and engaging the public in the excitement of science. His dedication to disseminating the results of Spirit and Opportunity rover photography and imagery in real time across the internet is just one example of how he helped bring the excitement of exploration to living rooms. many homes around the world.

He is a frequent contributor to popular astronomy and science magazines such as Sky & Telescope, Astronomy and Scientific American, as well as to radio shows and internet blogs on astronomy and space. He has appeared on television on NBC’s “Today”, CNN’s “This American Morning”, PBS’s “Newshour” and on Discovery, National Geographic and History. He has also written three photography-focused books that feature some of the most spectacular images of Mars and the Moon acquired during the space program: “Postcards from Mars” (Dutton / Penguin, 2006), “Mars 3-D” (Sterling, 2008) and “3-D Moon” (Sterling, 2009).

In addition, Bell is President of the Planetary Society “> http://www.planetary.org/”>, the world’s largest publicly-owned space exploration rights organization, and sits on various committees and panels for NASA and the larger community. He serves as an academic advisor for the ASU Student Chapter for Space Exploration and Development, and works closely with colleagues in the ASU Mars Education program to help with teacher workshops and speaking events. in public.

“It is a great honor to receive this award, named in honor of one of my mentors. Like many colleagues of my generation, I was inspired by Carl Sagan Cosmos TV series in the early 1980s. When her show arrived, it was the first time we could get the latest information on space directly from an expert who could actually communicate with people, ”says Bell. “It’s hard to remember a time when you couldn’t just go on the internet and get information. You could only discover the latest scientific discoveries if they were in the evening news or in the papers. I think that’s why this show had such an impact, both on the general public and on me in particular. I can trace my early interest in planetary science – and in communicating enthusiasm for science in general – to Cosmos and Carl Sagan’s patient, enthusiastic and very personal science teaching style.

The Carl Sagan Medal will be presented to Bell at the DPS 2011 meeting, October 3-7 in Nantes, France.


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