This Day In Astro History

Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
(1934 - 1996)

Cosmos logo

  Voyager image of Earth: The Pale Blue Dot
Voyager image of Earth: The Pale Blue Dot.

November 9

"The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counter intuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true." -- Carl Sagan

1934 - Carl Sagan's Birthday. 
Carl Sagan began a career in the science of  life in the universe as a research assistant to Nobel Prize-winning geneticist H. J. Muller in the 1950s. Trained in both astronomy and biology his contributions to the study of planetary science are a foundation for today's research.

Cosmos, the TV series, won Emmy and Peabody awards. Cosmos, the book, was the best selling science book ever. His novel Contact was done by Warner Bros. and became a major motion picture.

He played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking, and Voyager spacecraft expeditions to the planets, for which he received the NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and (twice) for Distinguished Public Service.

Co-founder of The Planetary Society.

He served as Distinguished Visiting Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Dr. Sagan has received the Pulitzer Prize, the Oersted Medal, and many other awards - including eighteen honorary degrees from American colleges and universities - for his contributions to science, literature, education, and the preservation of the environment. 

Sagan was the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University.  The Masursky Award from the American Astronomical Society cites "his extraordinary contributions to the development of planetary science.."

Sagan was the world's most famous astronomer. Among his many activities as a scientist, he contributed to the discovery that the atmosphere of Venus is prohibitively hot and dense, and found evidence that Saturn's moon Titan contains oceans stocked with the building blocks of life. Sagan was an outspoken proponent of the search for extra-terrestrial life, including sending probes to other planets and listening with large radio telescopes for signals from intelligent aliens. Sagan's outstanding ability to explain allowed almost a billion people to better understand the cosmos in which they live. (APOD)
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It is my conclusion that human evolution and the motions of matter in space are intrinsically linked. The observation and understanding of the complexity of biological history on Earth cannot be complete without the tandem observation and understanding of a dynamic greater cosmos. - SpaceGene