Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another Glass Ceiling Shatters!

The 2010 Hale Prize goes to Marcia Neugebauer for her seminal contributions to the discovery of the solar wind and her extensive and ongoing contributions to solar-heliospheric physics.

The Hale Prize is awarded to a scientist for outstanding contributions to and impact on the field of solar astronomy. It was first awarded in 1978; this is the first time it will go to a woman.

Marcia Neugebauer has not only made fundamental contributions to the understanding of Solar and Space Physics, but she has also had an enormous personal impact on the field.

“Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics,” , highlights some of the important scientific contributions Marcia has made during her illustrious career:

1. "Mariner 2 Observations of the Solar Wind, 1. Average Properties," (with C. W. Snyder) J. Geophys. Res. 71:4469 (1966) contained the first extensive measurements of the solar wind as well as the discovery of many of it properties.

2. "Initial Deceleration of Solar Wind Positive Ions in the Earth's Bow Shock," J. Geophys. Res. 75:717 (1970) showed how ions are decelerated at the bow shock, an important step not only in understanding the mechanisms that produce this shock, but also the shocks that occur throughout the solar system and presumably the galaxy and beyond.

3. "Observations of the Internal Structure of the Magnetopause," (with C.T. Russel and E.J. Smith) J. Geophys. Res. 79:499 (1974) showed that the magnetopause was a thick boundary of many ion gyroradii, and changed the theory of the structure of the boundary.

4. "The Role of Coulomb Collisions in Limiting Differential Flow and Temperature Differences in the Solar Wind," J. Geophys. Res. 81:78 (1976) showed that despite the "collisionless" nature of the solar wind, there was evidence that energy equipartition between H+ and He+ could be understood in terms of the Coulomb collision frequency for the two species.

5. "The Velocity Distributions of Cometary Protons Picked Up by the Solar Wind," (with A. J. Lazarus, H. Balsiger, S. A. Fuselier, F. M. Neubauer and H. Rosenbauer) J. Geophys. Res. 94:5227 (1989) measured the velocity distributions of ions in the coma of comet Halley.

6. "Densities and Abundances of Hot Cometary Ions in the Coma of P/Halley," (with R. Goldstein, B. E. Goldstein, S. A. Fuselier, H. Balsiger and W.-H. Ip) Astrophys. J. 372:291 (1991) measured the mass spectrum of ions in the outer coma of comet Halley.

Marcia has been a Co-PI for the solar wind experiments on Mariner 2, OGO 5, Apollo 12, Ulysses, Giotto, WIND, CELIAS on SOHO, and the Genesis Discovery mission. She has management experience as the supervisor of the JPL Space Plasma Physics Group, manager of the JPL Physics Section and Space Physics Section, and as the lead scientist for the JPL Space Physics Element. She has given back to the community through her service as an associate editor of JGR, secretary, president elect, and president of the Solar-Planetary Relationships Section of the AGU, editor in chief for Reviews of Geophysics, president elect and president of the AGU, and a member of the governing board of the American Institute of Physics. She has numerous awards and medals, is the author of over 200 scientific publications, and the editor of six books.

For these and many other reasons, Marcia Neugebauer is well deserving of the 2010 Hale Prize. Watch out! The shards of that shattered glass ceiling are falling all around us.