Former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander Alan “Dex” Poindexter died while on vacation with his family July 1 in Pensacola, Fla. A veteran of two spaceflights, Poindexter spent a total of 28 days in space.
Poindexter, a U.S. Navy captain, commanded the STS-131 space shuttle Discovery mission to the International Space Station in 2010, delivering more than 13,000 pounds of hardware and equipment. He was the pilot for shuttle Atlantis’ STS-122 mission that delivered and installed the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory on the station in 2008.
Fang Lizhi, a major voice for human rights and democracy and a pioneering scientist in his native China, continued to advance the field of astrophysics at the UA for more than 20 years before he died last week.
Human rights activist Fang Lizhi, who died last week at age 76, had been a professor in the University of Arizona department of physics and an adjunct professor with the UA’s Steward Observatory for more than 20 years, where he made highly regarded contributions to astrophysics.
Fang was world renowned for his outspoken and active role in promoting human rights in his native China.
Considered an “undesirable element” by the Chinese government, Fang was dismissed from the Chinese nuclear program and reassigned in 1958 to the University of Science and Technology of China, or USTC, which is regarded as China’s equivalent of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Full Story: http://uanews.org/node/46176
Astronomy and optical science lost a great pioneer and innovator when Dr. Aden Meinel passed away on 2 October 2011. Meinel led the development, and became the first Director, of the Kitt Peak National Observatory, located near Tucson, AZ. He then went on to become Director of the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, where he also founded the Optical Sciences program.
In the early 1950s, when the US astronomical community started talking about establishing a National Astronomical Observatory, the committee formed to guide the effort selected Meinel, an astronomer then at Yerkes Observatory, to lead the project. He knew that the skies in the Southwest were the most satisfactory, so his small team concentrated on the mountains there. In May 1955, Meinel arranged for his colleague Helmut Abt to fly in a small plane from McDonald Observatory in west Texas to assess the mountain summits. Based on that survey, Kitt Peak looked promising, and a visit to the summit was made in March 1956.
Full Story: http://www.noao.edu/news/2011/pr1105.php