NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) announced today award winners at the inaugural Exploration Science Forum (ESF) taking place this week at the NASA Research Park at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

Recognizing that science and exploration go hand in hand, NASA created SSERVI in 2013, expanding the scope of the former NASA Lunar Science Institute to include basic and applied scientific research on the Moon, near Earth asteroids, and the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos. The expanded research goals of the institute spawned two new awards. SSERVI announced today that the Michael J. Wargo Award and Susan Mahan Niebur award, join the previously established Eugene Shoemaker medal as a means of honoring outstanding achievement in exploration science. The winners were nominated by their academic peers, and were selected by SSERVI Director Yvonne Pendleton.

The 2014 Shoemaker Distinguished Scientist Medal, named after American geologist and one of the founders of planetary science, Eugene Shoemaker, was awarded to Paul Spudis, a Senior Staff Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, for his significant scientific contributions to the field of lunar science throughout the course of his scientific career. Dr. Spudis was Deputy Leader of the Science Team for the Department of Defense Clementine mission to the Moon in 1994, the Principal Investigator of the Mini-SAR imaging radar experiment on India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008-2009, and a team member of the Mini-RF imaging radar on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission (2009-present). Among many notable awards and achievements, he was presented with the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2004, and the 2011 Space Pioneer Award from the National Space Society. He is the author or co-author of over 100 scientific papers and six books, including The Once and Future Moon, a book for the general public in the Smithsonian Library of the Solar System series, and co-author of The Clementine Atlas of the Moon, by Cambridge University Press. The award included a certificate and medal with the Shakespearian quote “And he will make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with night.” The prize was presented and an invited lecture was given Monday at the ESF.

The Wargo Exploration Science Award is an annual award given to a scientist or engineer who has significantly contributed to the integration of exploration and planetary science throughout their career. The first Wargo Award was given posthumously to Michael J. Wargo and was received on behalf of his wife Ms. Adele Morrissette. Dr. Michael Wargo (1951-2013) was an outgoing and strong advocate for the integration of science, engineering and technology. Serving as Chief Exploration Scientist for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Mike worked closely with planetary researchers, especially in the lunar and Mars science communities, to develop collaborative and highly productive missions. Much of his work has helped develop a “roadmap” for human and robotic space exploration for the next two decades. Mike was a shining example of collaboration and open communication that has inspired many scientists and engineers.

The Susan Mahan Niebur Early Career Award is an annual award given to an early career scientist who has made significant contributions to the science or exploration communities. This year the prize was presented to two individuals, Simone Marchi of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Katherine Joy, also from the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston TX. The recipients are both researchers who are ten years out or less from their PhD, who have shown excellence in their field and demonstrated meaningful contributions to the science or exploration communities.

Dr. Joy investigates the crust formation processes, impacts, and space environment interactions in the evolution of planetary bodies using geochemical and chronological sample analysis and remote sensing data. She is an Early-Career Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, UK, and was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Lunar and Planetary Institute and NASA’s Johnson Space Center. She is involved with several international planetary science missions, including Co-Investigator (Co-I) for the Demonstration of a Compact Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (D-CIXS); Co-I for the Chandrayaan-1 X-ray Spectrometer (C1XS); Co-I for the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS) instrument that will fly aboard ESA’s BepiColumbo mission to Mercury, among others. Her many awards include the 2013 Royal Astronomical Society’s Winton Capital Geophysics Prize, the Royal Holloway undergraduate student prize for ‘Best Geological Fieldwork’ (2002) and ‘Best Independent Geological Mapping Project’ (2003).

Dr. Marchi is most active in the field of terrestrial planets and asteroid collisional evolution. Their rocky surfaces are “snapshots” of the bombardment history of the inner solar system. By studying these battered surfaces researchers gain insights on the magnitude and frequency of early collisions in the inner solar system, including our own Earth. He is also the Associate Scientist of OSIRIS and VIRTIS on board the ESA Rosetta mission; Associate Scientist of VIR on board the NASA Dawn mission; Chair of ESA MarcoPolo-R working group on crater properties, and External collaborator of the NASA MESSENGER mission Geology Discipline Group. The International Astronomical Union named Asteroid 72543 Simonemarchi in his honor, based on the significance of his research contributions.

“We look forward to future scientific discoveries from these individuals,” said Yvonne Pendleton, Director of SSERVI. “Their outstanding research efforts are vital to the ambitious activities of exploring the solar system with robots and humans we hope to achieve. Congratulations to Paul Spudis, Katherine Joy and Simone Marchi for their achievements and contributions.”

The SSERVI awards are open to the entire research community, including team members and Principal Investigators; recipients need not reside in the U.S. nor be a U.S. citizen. Nominations are welcome at any time at:, but must be submitted by March 15 for consideration in that calendar year. Winners will be announced at the annual Exploration Science Forum each summer.

More information on these awards and recipients, along with past awardees, can be found at:

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: SSERVI

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