Phillips Receives 2008 Whipple Award

Roger J. Phillips received the Whipple Award at the 2008 AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held 17 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes an individual who has made an out-standing contribution in the field of planetary science.


phillips_roger-jThe recipient of the 2008 Whipple Award is Roger Phillips. This award is the highest honor bestowed by the Planetary Sciences section. It goes to a scientist who has had a tremendous positive impact on the field of planetary sciences, in terms of both the specific science results obtained over a career and the leadership exerted on the development of the discipline. Roger exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist in both of these areas. His research has included the geophysical development and interior structure of solid planets, starting with the interior structure of the Moon and including Venus and Mars; the integration of results from different fields as applied to the volatile and hydrological history of Mars; and most recently the subsurface structure of Mars. In these areas, he has been a leader in analyzing data obtained from spacecraft, in developing theoretical approaches that connect up to the observations, and in leading instrument teams in obtaining new measurements. This combina-tion of approaches exemplifies the best aspects of contributing as a planetary scientist.

Let me quote from one of the letters in support of his nomination: “Few people have had a greater influence on the field of planetary science. His career encompasses the full breadth of work required to advance planetary science. He has developed new means of probing the planets [and] new methods of interpreting the data, mentored many planetary scientists, and served on numerous NASA missions and advisory panels. He is extremely highly regarded throughout the field as a rigorous, creative, insightful scientist and a stimulating colleague.”

It is a pleasure to have collaborated with Roger. And it is a distinct privilege and honor to present him with the 2008 Whipple Award.


Bruce Jakosky, University of Colorado, Boulder


Thanks very much, Bruce. I, too, greatly enjoyed our collaboration and hope that we can do it again sometime. It is an honor and a privilege to receive the Whipple Award, and I thank AGU and the Planetary Sciences section for this recognition.

Planetary science is largely a collaborative effort, and I have had the great fortune to be able to work with a number of very good (and often entertaining) people, for which my work has been all the better. This is a very long list, including, among others, Maria Zuber, Dave Smith, Sean Solomon, Stan Peale, Mike Mellon, Jim Head, Mike Malin, Ray Arvidson, Sue Smrekar, Matt Golombek, Bruce Campbell, Jeff Plaut, Roberto Seu, Steve Hauck, Brian Hynek, Mark Wieczorek, Than Putzig, Jeff Andrews-Hanna, Catherine Johnson, Norm Sleep, Erik Ivins, John Dvorak, and the late Bill Kaula. I have had the pleasure of working in the field of planetary science almost from its inception as measured by the dawn of NASA’s space missions. The fun has been the chance to combine theory with brand-new data from the planets, but this has also meant putting up sometimes with the drudgery of mission design and implementation. It has all been worth it. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of planetary science, I have been allowed to “follow the problem” rather than the discipline. This has often gotten me into trouble, but usually my colleagues have bailed me out.

Finally, I would like to thank my wife and best buddy, Rosanna Ridings, for, among other things, showing amazing patience as I flit from planet to planet.

Roger J. Phillips, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.