Carl Sagan, Explorer, Scientist, Author, 1934-1996

Carl Sagan played a leading role in the United States space program since its inception. He was a consultant and advisor to NASA since the 1950s, briefed the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon, and was an experimenter on the Mariner, Viking, Voyager and Galileo expeditions to the planets. He helped solve the mysteries of the high temperature of Venus, the seasonal changes on Mars and the reddish haze of Titan.

For his work, Sagan received the NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and (twice) the Distinguished Public Service, as well as the NASA Apollo Achievement Award. Asteroid 2709 Sagan is named after him. He was also given the John F. Kennedy Astronautics Award of the American Astronautical Society, the Explorers Club 75th Anniversary Award, the Konstantin Tsiolokovsky Medal of the Soviet Cosmonautics Federation and the Masursky Award of the American Astronomical Society. The citation for the Masursky Award read:

. . . for his extraordinary contributions in the development of planetary science. . . As a scientist trained in both astronomy and biology, Sagan made seminal contributions to the study of planetary atmospheres, planetary surfaces, the history of Earth, and exobiology. Many of the most productive planetary scientists working today are his former students and associates.

He was the 1994 recipient of the Public Welfare Medal, the highest award of the National Academy of Sciences. The citation for this honor read:

. . . Carl Sagan has been enormously successful in communicating the wonder and importance of science. His ability to capture the imagination of millions and to explain difficult concepts in understandable terms is a magnificent achievement.

Sagan was cofounder and President of The Planetary Society, a 100,000-member organization that is the largest space-interest group in the world; and Distinguished Visiting Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Sagan served as Chairman of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, as President of the Planetology Section of the American Geophysical Union, and as Chairman of the Astronomy Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For 12 years he was Editor in Chief of Icarus, the leading professional journal devoted to planetary research.

A Pulitzer Prize winner (twice), Sagan was the author of many best sellers, including Cosmos, which became the best-selling science book ever published in the English language. The accompanying Emmy and Peabody award-winning television series has been seen by 500 million people in 60 countries. He received 20 honorary degrees from both Canadian and U.S. colleges and universities for his contributions to science, literature, education and the preservation of the environment. At Cornell University, he served as the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies.

Sagan's last book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, was released by Random House in March 1996. At the time of his death, he was serving as coproducer and cowriter of the Warner Brothers movie, Contact, based on his novel and scheduled for a 1997 release.


"IF YOU WISH TO MAKE AN APPLE PIE FROM SCRATCH,
YOU MUST FIRST INVENT THE UNIVERSE."

 

 

 


Return to Home