James A. Van Allen ci ha lasciato

Il professor Van Allen, famoso per aver dato il nome alla fascia che circonda la Terra e la protegge dalle radiazioni spaziali, scoperta con il primo satellite USA, l’Explorer 1 nel 1958, è deceduto all’età di 91 anni.

Fonte: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=20565

Il professor Van Allen, famoso per aver dato il nome alla fascia che circonda la Terra e la protegge dalle radiazioni spaziali, scoperta con il primo satellite USA, l'Explorer 1 nel 1958, è deceduto all'età di 91 anni.

Fonte: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=20565



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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 9, 2006

Visit the UI James Van Allen tribute page at

Several high-resolution photographs of Van Allen are available for
download and use by media.

Photo 1

University of Iowa Physics Professor James Van Allen in his office
on the UI campus in Iowa City, Iowa, 1990. Photo by Tom Jorgensen,
University of Iowa Office of University Relations.

Photo 2

University of Iowa Physics Professor James Van Allen in his office
on the UI campus in Iowa City, Iowa, 1991. Photo by Tom Jorgensen,
University of Iowa Office of University Relations.

Photo 3

University of Iowa Physics Professor in North Liberty, Iowa, at one
of 10 radio-telescope antennas across the globe that make up the
Very Long Baseline, February 1994. Each dish measures 25 meters (82
feet) in diameter and weighs 240 tons. From Mauna Kea on the Big
Island of Hawaii to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the VLBA
spans more than 5,000 miles, providing astronomers with the sharpest
vision of any telescope on Earth or in space. Dedicated in 1993,
the VLBA has an ability to see fine detail equivalent to being able
to stand in New York and read a newspaper in Los Angeles. Photo by
Tom Jorgensen, University of Iowa Office of University Relations.

Photo 4

University of Iowa Physics Professor James Van Allen in his office
on the UI campus in Iowa City, Iowa, May 2004. Photo by Tom
Jorgensen, University of Iowa Office of University Relations.

U.S. Space Pioneer, UI Professor James A. Van Allen Dies

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Updated Wednesday, August 9, 2006 12:46 PM ) – Dr.
James A. Van Allen, U.S. space pioneer and Regent Distinguished
Professor of Physics in the University of Iowa College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences, died this morning, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2006 at the
age of 91. Arrangements are pending.
radiation – later known as the Van Allen radiation belts –
surrounding the Earth. It came at the height of the U.S.-Soviet
space race and literally put the United States on the map in the
field of space exploration.

Among the other accomplishments of which he was most proud was his
1973 first-ever survey of the radiation belts of Jupiter using the
Pioneer 10 spacecraft and his 1979 discovery and survey of Saturn’s
radiation belts using data from the Pioneer 11 spacecraft. Ever a
critic of manned space flight, Van Allen the scientist described
himself as “a member of the loyal opposition” when it came to
discussions of big-budget space programs, declaring that space
science could be done better and more cheaply when left to
remote-controlled, unmanned spacecraft. NASA’s move toward cheaper,
more focused unmanned spacecraft during the 1990s was, at least in
part, a result of Van Allen’s advocacy.

“Jim Van Allen was my friend and role model,” said UI Interim
President Gary Fethke. “He represented the very image of a superb
faculty member. His teaching prowess was legendary, his research was
defining, and his collegiality and service were unmatched. I will
always be grateful for his kindness to my family and to me, and I
will always be inspired and motivated by his complete dedication to
the University of Iowa. I will miss him greatly. On behalf of the
entire University community, I extend our sympathies to the Van
Allen family.”

UI Provost Michael Hogan said, “James Van Allen was one of the
university’s most influential and best-regarded scholars of all
time. Yet he remained the most unassuming and caring man. We will
all miss him deeply.”

Tom Boggess, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said
his entire department was saddened by the news of Van Allen’s death.

“We offer our deepest sympathies to his family,” Boggess said. “For
decades, Dr. Van Allen has been an inspiration and a role model to
our faculty, staff, and students. His dedication to science and
discovery, as well as to teaching and public service were
unmatched. In so many ways, Dr. Van Allen defined our department.
He will be sorely missed.”

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack also remembered Van Allen’s contributions as a
scientist and as a human being.

“Jim Van Allen was a good friend of our family,” Vilsack said. “His
loss saddens Christie and me. His passing is a sad day for science
in America and the world. He was a great teacher and mentor. His
love for the University was as limitless as the universe he explored
with such passion and energy. He will be missed.”

Born in Mount Pleasant on Sept. 7, 1914, Van Allen was valedictorian
of his high school class in 1931, and received his bachelor’s degree
in physics, summa cum laude, from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1935.
While an undergraduate at Iowa Wesleyan, he assisted the senior
scientist of the second Byrd Expedition (1934-35) to Antarctica in
preparing seismic and magnetic experimental equipment. (In 2004, the
American Polar Society commemorated his work by presenting Van Allen
with its Honors of the Society award.) He earned his master’s and
doctorate from the University of Iowa in 1936 and 1939, respectively.

From 1940 through 1942, he helped develop radio proximity fuzes –
detonators to increase the effectiveness of anti-aircraft fire –
for the defense of ships. Sponsored by the National Defense Research
Council, his work was conducted at the Carnegie Institution of
Washington and at the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins
University. In November 1942, he was commissioned as a naval
officer, and he served 16 months on various ships in the South
Pacific Fleet as assistant staff gunnery officer.

In 1946, Van Allen returned to the Applied Physics Laboratory where
he organized and directed a team to conduct high-altitude
experimental work using V2 and Aerobee rockets, and, in 1951, he
accepted a Guggenheim research fellowship at the Brookhaven National

Later in 1951, Van Allen became professor and head of the University
of Iowa Department of Physics and Astronomy, a position he held
until he retired from teaching in 1985. During the 1950s, he and his
graduate students used the UI football practice field to launch
rockets and “rockoons” – rockets carried aloft by balloons – to
conduct cosmic ray experiments above the atmosphere. A highlight of
that work was the 1953 discovery of electrons believed to be the
driving force behind the aurora. In 1956, he proposed the use of
U.S. satellites for cosmic-ray investigations and through
“preparedness and good fortune,” he later wrote, the experiment was
selected as the principal payload for the first flight of a
four-stage Jupiter C rocket.

Van Allen played an important role in planning the 1957-58
International Geophysical Year (IGY) and carried out shipboard
expeditions to Greenland and southward to the Ross Sea off the coast
of Antarctica in 1957. IGY culminated in the Jan. 31, 1958 launch of
Explorer 1 and its scientific payload. Van Allen’s instruments
included a Geiger counter, which provided information that regions
of intense radiation surround the Earth. The discovery marked the
birth of the research field of magnetospheric physics, an enterprise
that grew to involve more than 1,000 investigators in more than 20

In 1974 People Magazine listed Van Allen as one of the top 10
teaching college professors in the country. His former graduate
students list among their accomplishments experiments on NASA’s
Pioneer 10 and 11, Voyager 1 and 2, Galileo and Cassini spacecraft.

Van Allen joined the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in 1948 and
served as the organization’s president from 1982 until 1984. He has
received the AGU’s highest honors, including the John A. Fleming
Award in 1963 for eminence in geophysics and the William Bowie Medal
in 1977 for outstanding contributions to fundamental geophysics and
for unselfish cooperation in research.

In 1994, Van Allen received the 1994 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize from the
Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society
“in recognition of his many contributions to the field of planetary
science, both through his investigations of planetary magnetospheres
and through his advocacy of planetary exploration.” Also in 1994, he
was presented with a lifetime achievement award by NASA on the
occasion of his 80th birthday and the American Geophysical Union’s
75th anniversary.

Van Allen’s many other awards and honors include membership in the
National Academy of Sciences since 1959 and the National Medal of
Science, the nation’s highest honor for scientific achievement,
presented in 1987 by President Reagan in ceremonies at the White
House. In 1989, he received the Crafoord Prize, awarded by the Royal
Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm and presented by the King
of Sweden. The Crafoord Prize is the highest award the Academy can
bestow for research in a number of scientific fields and, for space
exploration, is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Perhaps his proudest achievement as an educator was leaving his mark
on 34 doctoral students, 47 master’s degree students and,
especially, the numerous undergraduates who enjoyed his classes. In
a February 2004 interview he said, “I taught ‘General Astronomy’ for
17 years, and it was my favorite course. I spent one or two hours
preparing for each lecture because I had a genuine enthusiasm for
the course. Today, I run into people all the time who say, ‘You
don’t remember me, but I took your course in 1985.’ Many former
students tell me how much they enjoyed the course.”

Van Allen is survived by his wife, Abigail Fithian Halsey II Van
Allen, his five children – Cynthia Van Allen Schaffner of New York
City; Dr. Margot Van Allen Cairns of Vancouver, British Columbia;
Sarah Van Allen Trimble of Washington, D.C.; Thomas Van Allen of
Aspen, Colo.; and Peter Van Allen of Philadelphia – and seven

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre
One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen J. Pradarelli, University News Services
Director, 319-384-0007, 319-621-5263 (cell), or
Writer: Gary Galluzzo.

Though he retired from active teaching in 1985, he continued to
monitor data from Pioneer 10 throughout the spacecraft’s 1972-2003
operational lifetime and serve as an interdisciplinary scientist for
the Galileo spacecraft, which reached Jupiter on Dec. 7, 1995.

The highlight of Van Allen’s long and distinguished career was his
use of UI-built instruments carried aboard the first successful U.S.
satellite, Explorer 1, in 1958 to discover bands of intense