Thursday, October 20, 2016
Jasper Halekas

Jasper S. Halekas, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has won an Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal from NASA, for “exceptional contributions to MAVEN’s science return using the Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA) instrument.”

This prestigious NASA medal is awarded for exceptional contributions toward the achievement of the NASA mission. NASA awarded only seven Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medals in 2016.

Halekas was the principal investigator of the Solar Wind Ion Analyzer instrument on NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) mission. On Nov. 5, 2015, NASA announced that the mission was able to determine the rate at which the Martian atmosphere is currently losing gas to space due to stripping by the solar wind. This may be why Mars’s early, warm, wet climate—one that may have been able to support life—changed into its current cold, dry desert climate.