The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) has named its prize winners for 2023. AAS awarded the 2023 Alexander Prize to Amy Simon, Senior Scientist for Planetary Atmospheres Research in the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Simon won the award for a mid-career scientist who has made and continues to make outstanding contributions that have significantly advanced our knowledge of planetary systems, including our solar system.
“Dr. Claudia Alexander was an inspiration to me during the NASA Galileo and Cassini missions, as she was brilliant, eloquent, and so very kind to a young scientist,” Simon said. “I’m very honored and humbled to receive an award that was named in her memory.”
Simon’s research spans the breadth from the smallest bodies to the most giant planets. Recent accomplishments include work on asteroid Bennu (target of the OSIRIS- REx mission), which revealed evidence that organic and carbonate materials are widely distributed (“ubiquitous”) across the surface and particularly strong in certain boulders and the creation of the Hubble Space Telescope Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy Program (OPAL), which established annual imaging of all four of our solar system’s giant planets – in perpetuity for the rest of Hubble’s lifetime.
Simon served on the Steering Committee of the Planetary Science Decadal Survey twice. She has taken leadership roles in many planetary missions past (Landsat 9,Cassini, Galileo), present (OSIRIS-REx and Lucy), and future (JUICE). Her other leadership activities include many advisory and scientific committees, as well as participation in many conference organizing committees. Most recently she served on the program committee for the 2022 “Workshop on In Situ Exploration of the Giant Planets II” and co-led the Ice Giant Mission Study for NASA. She has served on the DPS Committee and devoted six years to the AAS Committee on Status of Women. Dr. Simon has also served on the Icarus Editorial Board, and has served as a Guest Editor for Planetary and Space Science as well as Philosophical Transactions A.
“It is a real pleasure to award these prizes to such deserving individuals,” adds DPS Chair Catherine Neish. “I look forward to celebrating their accomplishments during the DPS-EPSC meeting this fall!”
Other prizes awarded include: the Urey, Kuiper, Masursky, Sagan and Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Awards. The 2023 DPS prizes will be presented at the 55th annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences, which will take place in San Antonio, Texas, and online from Oct. 1-6.
The Division for Planetary Sciences, founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest division of the AAS. Members of the DPS study the bodies of our solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.
The AAS, established in 1899 and based in Washington, D.C., is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe.
For more information about Dr. Amy Simon:
Video of Dr. Amy Simon explaining her NASA work: