December 7, 2009
Gerard And Me
mosaic from Lunar & Planetary Lab, University of Arizona. Kuiper is in the top 3 photos (in his office, at McDonald Observatory, and looking at Ranger 9 images coming in). Dale Cruikshank is the leftmost on the second row, Ray Heacock (JPL), Kuiper and Whitaker are the next image and the LPL or Kuiper building is at right. All of the other scenes are more recent than when Kuiper died and I left LPL, both in 1973.
I have just had an unexpected and totally delightful time revisiting the early history of the Lunar and Planetary Lab in Tucson. Today is the 104th birthday of Gerard Kuiper, one of the founders of planetary science, proposer of what became known as the Kuiper Belt, discoverer of the atmosphere of Titan, namesake of craters on the Moon, Mars and Mercury, and my boss in the 60s. During 2007 and 8 a number of LPL old timers were interviewed about the history of the Lab, but I never heard what happened to the material collected. Last night while googling Kuiper for this LPOD I stumbled upon the interviews, compiled as a wonderful oral history with many reflections by Ewen Whitaker, Bill Hartmann, Alan Binder, Dale Cruikshank and me. So I don't have to retell tales of what Kuiper was like because there is a treasure of them at the LPL: Founding, Evolution, Present and Future website - I just wish there were photos! Most of the Moon stuff is in the Founding and Missions to the Moon sections. There are 16 pages there, plus more in the sections on students and of course Kuiper. Here are some of my comments and a few by others about Kuiper and science:
Kuiper - my story is on page 2; Observing Ranger; Kuiper and art; The future
PS - One of the pages mentions a story I had never heard: Kuiper commenting on my lovelife!
GPK, EAW & a blind Ranger 6