Catherine Johnson, a UBC researcher searching for ‘Marsquakes’ as part of NASA’s InSight mission and a leading expert on planetary magnetic fields, has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Price Medal in Geophysics.
Johnson, a professor with UBC’s Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, is cited “for her pioneering investigations into the past and present planetary magnetic fields of Earth and Mercury."
“Astronomy and geophysics are disciplines led by an extraordinarily talented group of people,” said Mike Cruise, president of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), in making the announcement.
“The Royal Astronomical Society recognizes the achievements of the very best of these men and women with our medals and awards. Our prizes are won by researchers studying the core of the Earth, the distant universe, and everything in between.”
Johnson led research that meticulously described the internal and external magnetic field data recorded by MESSENGER as it orbited Mercury. The Society cited Johnson’s work for providing: “The foundation for understanding the thermal and dynamic evolution of Mercury, motivating a host of ongoing multidisciplinary studies.”
The only researcher from Canada involved in NASA’s InSight mission to Mars, Johnson will be part of a pioneering effort to peer inside the Red Planet and learn about what’s below the surface, as well as the planet’s history. The mission will be the first to deploy a seismometer on the surface of another planet.
This year’s winners of the RAS Gold Medals are Professor Margaret Kivelson of the University of California Los Angeles, and Professor Robert Kennicutt of the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M University. Past winners of the Society’s gold medals include Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble, Arthur Eddington and Stephen Hawking. The gold medal was first awarded in 1824.
The Society awarded more than 20 other medals, awards, lectures and honorary fellowships. Winners will be invited to collect their awards at the National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Lancaster this July.