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NASA Honors Comet Science Pioneer Michael A’Hearn

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NASA has conferred the Exceptional Public Service Medal to Michael A’Hearn. He is one of the world’s leading comet scientists, posthumously on 12 June 2017.

Key Notes

A’Hearn had passed away on 29 May 2017 at his home in University Park, Maryland. He was 76.NASA Honors Comet Science Pioneer Michael A'Hearn

  • He was an astronomer and distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland (UMD).
  • He was awarded posthumously at the Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG) meeting at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
  • The exceptional service medal is for his fundamental work on comets and small bodies of the solar system, leadership in space missions and ensuring public access to data from NASA missions and related projects.

About Michael A’Hearn

Michael was born on 17 November 1940, Michael A’Hearn was an elected fellow of the AAAS.

  • He has authored over 100 papers published in journals.
  • He has served as the co-investigator on NASA’s Stardust-NExT mission to re-visit comet Tempel 1 and also on two instruments on ESA’s Rosetta mission: the OSIRIS camera and the NASA ultraviolet spectrograph “Alice.”
  • In June 1986, the main-belt asteroid 3192 A’Hearn, discovered by American astronomer Edward Bowell, was named after him to honor his contributions to cometary science.
  • A’Hearn also received the Gerard P. Kuiper Prize for outstanding lifetime achievement in the field of planetary science from the American Astronomical Society Division in 2008.
  • He was the principal investigator for the NASA Deep Impact mission, EPOXI that had the dual purpose of studying extrasolar planets and comet Hartley 2.