Showing posts from September, 2011

In Memoriam: Michael J. Drake!

Michael J. Drake(1946–2011), Regents’ Professor, Director of the University of Arizona’s (UA) Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL), and head of the Department of Planetary Sciences, died September 21 at The University of Arizona Medical Center–University Campus in Tucson, Arizona. He was 65.

Drake, who joined UA in 1973 and headed LPL and the planetary sciences department since 1994, was the principal investigator of the most ambitious UA project to date, OSIRIS-REx, an $800 million mission designed to retrieve a sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth. OSIRIS-REx is due to launch in 2016.

Under Drake’s leadership, the LPL grew from a small group of geologists and astronomers into an international powerhouse of research into the solar system. Drake played a key role in a succession of ever more high-profile space projects that garnered international attention for LPL and the university. Those include the Cassini mission to explore Saturn, the Gamma-Ray Spectrometer onboard NASA’s M…