Text Size

NASA Astrophysicist Wins Arctowski Medal
The National Academy of Sciences will award the 2008 Arctowski Medal to Dr. Leonard Burlaga, an Astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Photo of Len Burlaga Image right: Photo of Dr. Leonard Burlaga

The award will be presented at an awards ceremony on Sunday, April 27, 2008, in Washington, D. C., in conjunction with the Academy's annual meeting. The Arctowski Medal is presented to honor outstanding contributions to the study of solar physics and solar-terrestrial relationships. The award cites Burlaga "for pioneering studies of the magnetized solar wind plasma from 0.3 to 102 AU, including the recent crossings of the Voyagers of the heliospheric termination shock and their entry in the heliosheath."

The award carries with it a medal and a prize of $20,000. In addition, it carries a $60,000 award to an institution of the recipient’s choice to further research in solar physics and solar terrestrial relationships.

The award has been given to one person every three years since 1969. It was established by a bequest of Jane Arctowski in honor of her husband, Henryk Arctowski, a Polish scientist, oceanographer, and Antarctic explorer. He was in charge of physical observations on the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897-1899. This was the first expedition to spend the winter in the Antarctic. His name has been given to a phenomenon in which a halo resembling a rainbow, with two other partial arcs symmetrical to the main one, forms around the sun as light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere.

"It is a very special honor for me, as a scientist at NASA, to be associated with the name of the great explorer and scientist, Henryk Arctowski," said Burlaga. "This Award to me recognizes achievements of NASA and the citizens of the United States in the exploration of the solar system."

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is an honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. The NAS was signed into being by President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1863, at the height of the Civil War. Since then, the nation's leaders have often turned to the National Academies for advice on the scientific and technological issues that frequently pervade policy decisions.

Related Links:

> Past Arctowski recipients
> More on Henryk Arctowski and the Antarctic station that bears his name

William Steigerwald
Goddard Space Flight Center