Thursday, August 29, 2013

RIP, Bruce Murray, space explorer

I never met the great planetary exploration leader Bruce Murray, at least not that I recall, but I couldn't let his death pass without a note.  Murray steered the Jet Propulsion Lab, formerly an Army contract research center, into its glory days of solar system exploration.  Murray was an early and successful advocate for allotting some of the precious mass on interplanetary spacecraft to cameras: not just for the scientific return, but to involve the public.  And did it ever work.  Those of us old enough to remember Viking will recall those first pictures from Mars forever. He was instrumental in keeping JPL and the robotic missions alive when human spaceflight, especially the Shuttle, threatened to eat the entire NASA budget.  Murray cofounded the Planetary Society, wrote six books, and had an asteroid named after him.  He was nicknamed Admiral of the Solar System, and he deserved it.

Sail on, Admiral.

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