News Column

UI Physics Professor Named Chair of National Planetary Sciences Organization

August 14, 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho, Aug. 14 -- The University of Idaho issued the following news release:

The American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) has elected University of Idaho associate professor of physics Jason Barnes its future chair. Barnes will begin his role as vice-chair in November 2014 and take the helm as chair in November 2015.

The DPS counts nearly 1,200 planetary scientists and astronomers among its membership in the United States and abroad. DPS is the largest special-interest division of the American Astronomical Society, which is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. Its membership of about 7,000 individuals includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers and others whose research and educational interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS and its divisions is to enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the universe.

"We in the College of Science are very pleased to have a faculty member with such a high profile within the planetary science community," said Paul Joyce, dean of the UI College of Science. "In fact, Carl Sagan was about Dr. Barnes' age when he first served as chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences some 40 years ago, so Jason is in good company."

Barnes said he is excited to support the DPS, of which he's been a member since he was a student. As chair he plans to modernize the organization's communications and streamline interactions with its members, as well as present its priorities to Congress and the Obama administration and advocate for NASA funding for planetary science projects.

"We really want to be laying the groundwork for the awesome missions that will be grabbing people's attention 10 years from now," Barnes said.

Barnes will end his time as chair at the October 2016 DPS meeting in Pasadena, California, which will be held jointly with the European Planetary Science Congress.

Barnes earned his doctorate in planetary science from the University of Arizona in 2004 and came to UI in 2008. He studies the physics of planets and planetary systems, using NASA spacecraft data to study planets that orbit stars other than the Sun (extrasolar planets) and the composition and nature of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan.

His recent projects include discovering evidence of waves in Titan's methane seas.

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Source: Targeted News Service

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