The Athena science and engineering team for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission has named a prominent ridge on the east side of the Husband Hill summit on the Red Planet “Haskin Ridge,” in honor and in memory of Larry A. Haskin, Ph.D., the Ralph E. Morrow Distinguished University Professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences.
Haskin was a very highly regarded NASA veteran and former chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. He died March 24 of myelofibrosis, a blood disease he had fought for many years.
Haskin worked on the MER mission up to his death and had the last paper he authored on results of MER explorations published July 7 in the journal Nature.
Haskin Ridge is a major topographic feature of Husband Hill. The Columbia Hills comprise a rugged ridge complex of seven peaks spanning some 2.2 miles in length and reaching a maximum height of 348 feet above the plains of the rover Spirit’s landing site within Gusev crater.
Spirit is expected to descend Husband Hill soon, coming down Haskin Ridge and gathering data as it descends.
The high point in Columbia Hills is Husband Hill, named after the late Rick Husband, commander of the shuttle Columbia. Six other hills are named after the six other astronauts who flew on Columbia’s last mission.
Haskin’s WUSTL colleagues on the Athena science and engineering team are — all from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences — Raymond E. Arvidson, Ph.D., department chair and the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor; Bradley Jolliff, Ph.D., research associate professor; and Alian Wang, Ph.D., and Ed Guinness, Ph.D., senior research scientists.
“Larry is richly deserving of this honor,” said Wang, who worked with Haskin for 12 years. “He was my mentor, a great example of a passionate yet cool-headed scientist, a persistent leader, and a teammate in the battle trenches.”
“Larry was special,” Arvidson said, “a warm and caring individual and an excellent scientist. We miss him very much.”
“We miss Larry”, echoed Steven Squyres, Ph.D., Athena science payload principal investigator and professor of astronomy at Cornell University. “He was known to be a thoughtful scientist, known for deep and careful analyses.
“I thought of him as the scientific conscience of our team, a steadying influence who would reel us back in when we drifted off on some geochemical flight of fancy.”
Spirit’s counterpart, Opportunity, is on the other side of Mars, near the Meridiani Planum.
The MER mission has been one of NASA’s most successful. The solar-powered rovers landed on Mars in January 2004 and are still traversing and gathering data after more than 600 Earth days.
In addition to the ridge on Mars, NASA has announced the establishment of two yearly fellowships called the Larry Haskin Early Career Fellowship.
WUSTL’s McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences has established the Larry Haskin Graduate Fellowship in Planetary Geochemistry and Petrology.
And the WUSTL earth and planetary sciences department has set up the Larry A. Haskin Memorial Lecture Fund for Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry.