Don Wilhelms was honored with the 2010 Shoemaker Award at this year’s Lunar Science Forum, hosted by NLSI at NASA Ames Research Center.
The Shoemaker Distinguished Lunar Scientist Award is an annual award given to a scientist who has significantly contributed to the field of Lunar Science throughout the course of their scientific career. The first Distinguished Lunar Scientist Award was given posthumously to Dr. Gene Shoemaker and presented to his wife Carolyn for his many contributions to the lunar geological sciences. The award has subsequently been named after Dr. Shoemaker and includes a medal with the Shakespearian quote “And he will make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with night.” This year’s honoree, Dr. Don Wilhelms, was given the award on the first night of the Lunar Science Forum, and he then give a short scientific talk to the Forum attendees.
“Shoemaker was a great scientist and a great influence on the [Apollo] program– he got science into the lunar program that wouldn’t have been there otherwise– so I’m very pleased to be associated with him, having worked with him and now getting the award with his name on it.” Wilhelms said after receiving the medal.
“We are very honored to be able to present this award to Dr. Wilhelms,” said Greg Schmidt, deputy director of NLSI. “His contributions to lunar science, following in the path of his friend and mentor Gene Shoemaker, were profound. His lunar mapping work remains the authoritative source of knowledge on this topic, and through this work he continues to have a major effect on shaping a new generation of lunar scientists.”
“Dr. Wilhelms has literally written the book on lunar geology. Both of his books, ‘To a Rocky Moon’ and ‘The Geologic History of the Moon,’ have been required reading for students of lunar science,” said David Morrison, NLSI’s Chief Scientist.
Don Wilhelms devoted his professional life to lunar and planetary geology after obtaining degrees in geology from Pomona College and the University of California, Los Angeles. His 24-year career at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Menlo Park, California, office of the Branch of Astrogeology spanned the era of American robotic and human exploration of the Moon.
Dr. Wilhelms has become a leading authority on the Moon’s geology, specializing in stratigraphy and geologic mapping, and he played a major role in the selection of target s for Lunar Orbiter photography and sites for Apollo landings. He helped train the astronauts in field and lunar geology during a year at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston and in preflight briefings.
He is the author of the definitive book The Geologic History of the Moon and of numerous maps and article s on lunar and planetary geology. He also authored the book “To a Rocky Moon: A Geologist’s History of Lunar Exploration.”
Since his official retirement in August 1986 he has continued to study the Moon, Mars, and the Jovian satellite Ganymede. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has received the Geological Society of America’s G. K. Gilbert Award and the Department of the Interior’s Meritorious Service Award.
Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff