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NASA Goddard scientist wins Harold C. Urey Prize

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center


IMAGE: This is Dr. Geronimo Villanueva, recipient of the 2015 Harold C. Urey prize. view more

Credit: Jose Aponte

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society awarded its 2015 Harold C. Urey Prize to Dr. Geronimo Luis Villanueva of the Catholic University of America, Washington and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

The prize is for outstanding achievement in planetary research and is the highest honor for a young planetary scientist from the American Astronomical Society. The citation noted that Villanueva has demonstrated exceptional capability and versatility in addressing scientific challenges in the planetary sciences. For his work with comets and with Mars's atmosphere, Geronimo is recognized as one of the best young spectroscopists in his generation.

Spectroscopy is the analysis of light. By observing the intensity and colors, or frequencies, of light that are emitted or absorbed by an object, astronomers can determine its composition, velocity, temperature, and other characteristics. It's a critical tool for astronomy, because most celestial objects are far too remote to study directly.

"I am humbled, honored, and grateful to have been selected as the recipient of the 2015 Urey Award from the prestigious American Astronomical Society," said Dr. Villanueva. "This award is also to my colleagues and mentors throughout my career, with whom we have been, and will continue, exploring our Solar System and beyond."

Villanueva obtained his bachelor's degree from Universidad Mendoza, Argentina. He received his master's degree from Clausthal Technical University, Germany, in 2003, and Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg, Germany, in 2004.

The 2015 DPS prizes will be presented at the 47th annual DPS meeting in National Harbor, Maryland, 8-13 November 2015.


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