Two of the Planetary Society's own have won prestigious awards from the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS): President Jim Bell will take home the Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public, and blogger Emily Lakdawalla will receive the Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award to recognize and stimulate distinguished popular writing on planetary sciences.
"When you're in love, you want to tell the world,” said Bill Nye, Executive Director of the Planetary Society. “Jim and Emily are communicators who love planets. They help all of us know and appreciate our place among the many worlds that have been discovered and explored, and I am proud to know them."
Carl Sagan co-founded the Planetary Society and was its long-time president, so it is especially fitting that our current president, Jim Bell, is receiving the 2011 Carl Sagan Medal. A dynamic public speaker and popular author, Bell is an eloquent spokesperson for the excitement and value of planetary exploration. His books, such as Postcards from Mars, share the wonders of other worlds with people everywhere. Bell is a professor at Arizona State University and has participated in several NASA missions.
The DPS also cited Bell’s work with the Planetary Society: "Jim’s involvement with The Planetary Society and other outreach organizations and programs has extended his influence with the public, not just in the United States, but around the world."
Bell said, “I can trace my early interest in planetary science – and in communicating the excitement of science in general -- to Carl Sagan’s TV series, Cosmos, and to Carl’s patient, enthusiastic, and very personal style of science education. Receiving this award named after him is an honor.”
Emily Lakdawalla is the Planetary Society's Science and Technology Coordinator as well as the author of a popular blog on planetay.org. Lakdawalla blogs daily about new discoveries and research in planetary sciences, both in the US and worldwide. Her timely blogs, often referenced by other science writers, are read by a sizeable following from both the general public and those working in the field of planetary exploration. The Eberhart Award specifically honors her 2009 blog posting entitled "The Phoebe Ring" -- a previously unseen ring around Saturn that shares the same orbit as its moon Phoebe.
“I am particularly honored because this is an award that comes from scientists -- a vote of confidence from the scientific community that they approve of how I make what they publish more accessible to a wider audience,” said Lakdawalla.
The 2011 DPS prizes will be presented at the joint meeting of the DPS.