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  Bruce Murray, former director of JPL (1931-2013)

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Author Topic:   Bruce Murray, former director of JPL (1931-2013)
Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-29-2013 11:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Planetary Society reports that Bruce C. Murray died of Alzheimer's disease on Thursday (Aug. 29). He was 81.
The Planetary Society owes its existence to Bruce, who with Carl Sagan, decided in 1979 that the world needed an organization that would harness the public's fascination [with] planetary exploration and demonstrate to politicians that voters would support those who supported planetary exploration. Bruce and Carl directed the organization together for sixteen years, until Carl's death, and Bruce took over as president for another 5 years.

The world knew Bruce Murray as Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, from the triumphant Viking landings on Mars, through Voyager’s encounters at Jupiter and Saturn, to the start of Galileo to Jupiter and Magellan to Venus. Discover magazine dubbed him "the Admiral of the Solar System," a title for which he took a lot of teasing from those who knew and loved him. Bruce's great hero was Captain James Cook, the great explorer of the seas, and he may have been secretly pleased to have been given a title – even if entirely unofficial — that recalled great explorers of the past.

randy
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Headshot
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posted 08-29-2013 12:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very sad news indeed.

Murray took JPL over from the legendary William Pickering and made it reach even greater heights.

East-Frisian
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Delta7
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Delta7
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Joe Frasketi
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cspg
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What a rotten disease. I will always remember his book "Journey into Space". A must read.

RobertB
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DChudwin
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A huge loss. He was a great proponent of public involvement in the space exploration, especially unmanned exploration of the Solar System. The Planetary Society is a monument to his interests and enthusiasm.

Kite
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Blackarrow
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Another giant has sailed beyond the final horizon.

dss65
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mach3valkyrie
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GACspaceguy
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David Carey
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nasamad
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dom
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Gilbert
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Ronpur
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Philip
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posted 10-17-2013 06:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An amazing man, involved in the early Mars missions, at the controls of NASA JPL in its hey days (Voyager I/II).

R.I.P.

capoetc
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GACspaceguy
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Spacefest
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Richard Easton
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rjb1elec
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Robert Pearlman
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NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory release
Mars Rover Teams Dub Sites in Memory of Bruce Murray

Features on Mars important to the missions of NASA's two active Mars rovers are now called "Murray Ridge" and "Murray Buttes," in honor of influential planetary scientist Bruce Murray (1931-2013).

The rover Opportunity, which has been roaming Mars for nearly a decade, is currently climbing Murray Ridge, part of an uplifted crater rim. NASA's newer rover, Curiosity, is headed toward Murray Buttes as the entryway to that mission's main destination.

"Bruce Murray contributed both scientific insight and leadership that laid the groundwork for interplanetary missions such as robotic missions to Mars, including the Mars rovers, part of America's inspirational accomplishments. It is fitting that the rover teams have chosen his name for significant landmarks on their expeditions," said NASA Mars Exploration Program Manager Fuk Li, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Murray, a California Institute of Technology planetary geologist, worked on science teams of NASA's earliest missions to Mars in the 1960s and '70s. He was the director of JPL from 1976 to 1982, then returned to teaching and research at Caltech. He co-founded the Planetary Society in 1980 and vigorously promoted public support for planetary exploration missions. He died on Aug. 29, 2013.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which has been working on Mars since 2004, has been investigating sites on the western rim of a 14-mile-wide (22-kilometer-wide) crater, Endeavour, for the past two years. The feature, informally named Murray Ridge, is an uplifted portion of the rim, a spine rising southward from "Solander Point" to an elevation about 130 feet (40 meters) above the surrounding plain.

"Murray Ridge is the highest hill we've ever tried to climb with Opportunity," said the mission's principal investigator, Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. The ridge has outcrops with clay minerals detected from orbit. It also provides a favorable slope for Martian winter sunshine to hit the rover's solar panels, an advantage for keeping Opportunity mobile through the winter.

"Bruce Murray is best known for having been the director of JPL, and JPL is where our rovers were built," Squyres said. "He led JPL during a time when the planetary exploration budget was under pressure and the future for planetary missions was not clear. His leadership brought us through that period with a strong exploration program. He was also a towering figure in Mars research. His papers are still cited abundantly today."

The Curiosity rover is driving from a flatter area where it worked for several months after landing in 2011 to the slopes of a mountain 3 miles (5 kilometers) high, Mount Sharp. Murray Buttes, at the base of the mountain, are a cluster of small, steep-sided knobs, up to about the size of a football field and the height of a goal post. They sit in a gap in a band of dark sand dunes that lie at the foot of the mountain. Deep sand could present a hazard for driving, so this break in the dunes is the access path to the mountain.

"We'll be going right by these buttes when we shoot the gap in the dunes," said Curiosity science-team member Ken Herkenhoff, of the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Center, Flagstaff, Ariz. "It will be a visually intriguing area for both the science team and the public. I think it will look like a miniature version of Monument Valley in Utah."

Blowing sand from the dunes may scour dust off the buttes, exposing layers of rock for observation by the rover.

Herkenhoff, who was a graduate student of Murray's in the 1980s, said, "Bruce Murray was a sedimentologist, so the sedimentary rocks we expect to see at Murray Buttes would have been especially interesting for him. He would have loved this."

Curiosity's science team plans for Murray Buttes to serve as a corridor from which to launch the rover's climb onto Mount Sharp.

Jeff
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LM1
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