Dr. Harold (Hal) Weaver Jr.|
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Hal Weaver is the New Horizons project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., where he joined the staff in May 2002. The mission may have nearly a decade to go before reaching Pluto, but Weaver has already made a great discovery near the distant planet – he was co-leader of the team that used the Hubble Space Telescope this year to find two new moons in the Pluto system!
Weaver has been pursuing space-borne, rocket-borne, airborne and ground-based investigations in planetary science since 1978. To earn his doctorate (from Johns Hopkins in 1982) he analyzed cometary spectra obtained with the NASA/ESA International Ultraviolet Observer satellite – the first systematic investigation of a comet's ultraviolet emissions, which demonstrated that water was probably the dominant volatile constituent in cometary nuclei.
Weaver has led many investigations of comets, including the first Hubble Telescope spectroscopic observations of a comet in September 1991, and the Hubble program to study Comet D/Shoemaker-Levy 9's plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere in July 1994. He also led Hubble investigations of comets Hyakutake, Hale-Bopp, C/1999 S4 (LINEAR) and several others, and last year guided the team that first detected atomic deuterium emission in a comet – which may shed light on the role comets played in seeding Earth with water and organic molecules.
In 1996, asteroid 1984 FN was renamed asteroid "Halweaver" to recognize his work on the chemical composition of comets. Weaver has also published more than 100 papers, including studies of planets and their satellites in addition to comets, and has a longstanding interest in research on the formation and evolution of planetary systems.
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center