Dr. David Grinspoon, who is training to be a suborbital scientist-astronaut, has been named as the first Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology. The chair is a joint project of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

Grinspoon is the curator of astrobiology in the Department of Space Sciences at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He is a well-known researcher in planetary science and the author of Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life.

Grinspoon is also a founding member of the Suborbital Applications Researchers Group (SARG), a group of 12 scientists who are training to be scientist astronauts on commercial suborbital vehicles. SARG is headed by Dr. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, a space scientist who previously served as Associate Administrator for Science at NASA Headquarters. SARG also serves as a coordination and advisory committee of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

This new chair is named for the late Dr. Baruch Blumberg, a founding member of the Kluge Center Scholars Council, Nobel Laureate, and founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Blumberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1976 for the discovery of the Hepatitis B virus and development of a Hepatitis B vaccine.

At the Kluge Center from November 2012 through November 2013, Grinspoon will examine choices facing humanity as we enter the Anthropocene Era, when human activities become a defining characteristic of the physical nature and functioning of Earth. His research will include the role of planetary exploration in fostering scientific and public understanding of climate change and the power of astrobiology as a model of interdisciplinary research and communication.

NASA Astrobiology Institute Director Carl Pilcher said, “Grinspoon will conduct a very exciting investigation of how the insights and scientific culture of astrobiology can inform the choices facing humanity in the coming decades. His background as an astrobiology researcher, writer and communicator of science makes him an ideal choice to begin what we hope will become a great tradition of astrobiology chairs at the Library.”

The Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 thanks to a generous endowment from John W. Kluge. The Kluge Center brings together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources, and interact with policymakers in Washington.

Written by Astro1 on April 23rd, 2012 , Astrobiology, Citizen Exploration

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