May 5, 2009

MESSENGER Co-Investigator Peale Elected to National Academy of Sciences

MESSENGER Co-Investigator Stanton J. Peale, a professor emeritus renowned for his work in planetary science and astrophysics at University of California, Santa Barbara, was among the 72 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The election was held April 28 during the business session of the 146th annual meeting of the Academy. Those elected bring the total number of active members to 2,150, now including four members of the MESSENGER Science Team.

Peale is a leading expert on planetary dynamics. He developed the technique by which MESSENGER will measure the size and state of Mercury's core, and he will lead the interpretation of Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) measurements of Mercury's rotation and physical libration.
His theory for Mercury's forced libration, equivalent to small variations in Mercury's spin rate, was recently utilized to interpret Earth-based radar measurements of Mercury's motions. Those observations can be explained only if Mercury's core is at least partially molten, a finding that has helped scientists better understand Mercury's thermal history and the generation of the planet's intrinsic magnetic field.
As a member of the Academy, Peale will help advise the federal government on science and technology issues. Additional information about the Academy and its members is available online at


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