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American Astronomical Society Announces Posthumous Award to George Brown

Nov 8, 1999
Press Release

The year 2000 Harold Masursky Meritorious Service Award of the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society will be posthumously awarded to former Congressman George E. Brown, Jr., who died July 15, 1999. The DPS, with more than 1000 members, is the nation's largest organization of professional scientists devoted to exploring the planets and other bodies of the solar system. The Masursky Award is bestowed annually by the DPS to recognize outstanding service to the field of planetary sciences.

Rep. Brown has been selected for the year 2000 award to recognize his accomplishments as a champion for planetary science and exploration. Rep. Brown, who represented a California district close to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1962 and had been a member of its Science Committee since 1965.

Rep. Ralph M. Hall, who succeeded Brown as Ranking Democratic Member of the Science Committee, noted that the Masursky Award "is not the first, nor will it be the last, of the many commemoratives for George from the scientific and engineering community who knew and loved him well. They are all richly deserved; George was a giant whose impact cannot really be replaced".

DPS Chairman Robert M. Nelson noted that Rep. Brown was "unique among the members of Congress in his resolve and steadfastness in support of scientific research. Throughout his career, Rep. Brown enthusiastically supported both manned and unmanned space exploration. He was instrumental in turning around several threats to cancel the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and consistently fought to keep NASA research line items in the Federal budget."

Nelson continued: "One of the principal reasons that the scientific community held George Brown in such high regard was due to his strong support for peer review from the scientific community. Brown was a strong opponent of 'earmarking' by Congress, a process whereby individual congressmen trade favors in exchange for technical projects being funded within their own congressional districts. Brown recognized that excellence in science requires peer review from scientists worldwide rather than from a few special-interest individuals in a particular region."

"Rep. Brown also was a valued proponent of opportunities to use space for the benefit of mankind, a central goal of the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act. His genuine enthusiasm for planetary exploration and the nation's children led him to inspire students to dream of their own futures as the next generation of planetary explorers. Through live broadcasts, astronaut visits, and space-related math and science education initiatives, he brought the excitement of space exploration directly to the classroom."

The Meritorious Service Award, established by the DPS in 1991, is named in honor of the late Harold Masursky of the U. S. Geological Survey, an outstanding scientist who was a leader in establishing and accomplishing scientific objectives in both U. S. and international programs for planetary exploration. The Masursky award will be formally presented at the 2000 meeting of the DPS, to be held October 23-27, 2000, in Pasadena, CA.

106th Congress