Biography

Dr. Wesley T. Huntress, Jr.
 
Director Emeritus
Geophysical Laboratory
Carnegie Institution of Washington


Photo of Dr. Wesley T. Huntress, Jr.

Dr. Wesley T. Huntress, Jr.

Dr. Wesley T. Huntress holds the distinction of being chosen as the first President of The Planetary Society who was not one of the original three founding members. He succeeded Bruce Murray to the position in 2001, having served as the Society’s vice-president from 2000-2001.

Huntress is the Director of the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory, following a long career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA Headquarters, that included a 5 year stint as NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Science.

Huntress began his career at JPL as a National Research Council Resident Associate before joined the lab permanently in 1969 as a research scientist specializing in ion chemistry and planetary atmospheres. At JPL, Huntress and his research group gained international recognition for their pioneering studies of chemical evolution in interstellar clouds, comets and planetary atmospheres. In addition, he served as a co-investigator for the Ion Mass Spectrometer experiment in the Giotto Halley's Comet mission, as the Coma Interdisciplinary Scientist for the Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby mission, and as JPL Study Scientist for the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite and Cassini missions.

Before leaving Pasadena for Washington, DC, Huntress served as a Visiting Professor of Cosmochemistry in the Department of Planetary Science and Geophysics at Caltech from 1987-88. He was then detailed from JPL as Special Assistant to the Director of the Earth Science and Applications Division at NASA headquarters for two years.

In 1990 Huntress was appointed NASA’s Director of the Solar System Exploration Division, and in 1993 he became the Associate Administrator for Space Science where he was responsible for NASA's programs in Astrophysics, Planetary Exploration and Space Physics.

Dr. Huntress earned his B.S. in Chemistry at Brown University in 1964, and his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics at Stanford University in 1968. He is the recipient of a number of honors, including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.