Date: September 13, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Jeanette Smith, NMSU Library, (575) 646-7492, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Mexico State University astronomer and professor emerita Dr. Reta Beebe has received NASA’s Exceptional Public Service medal in recognition of her many years of dedicated support archiving planetary science data so that it is accessible to the community at large.
Beebe’s friends, family and colleagues were with her when NMSU Executive Vice President and Provost Wendy K. Wilkins recently presented her with a medal and certificate for her work, which dates back more than thirty years.
Beebe and her husband, Dr. Herb Beebe, are longtime NMSU Library supporters who contributed to several important archival collections in the Library. They played major roles working with the Library to receive and process the Dr. Clyde Tombaugh Collection, the Dr. Frank Harary Collection and the Dr. Walter Lwowski Collection.
Beebe’s colleagues said that she worked tirelessly with NASA while still teaching and advising thirty master’s degree and doctorate graduates and that her knowledge and legacy in the astronomy world goes back many years.
“I’m pleased,” Beebe said when asked about her thoughts on the award. “There are an awful lot of people in my business who give a lot of effort in what they do. I’ve always been deeply impressed with how willing they are to support me on any of the efforts I have made. There is a lot of good work that has to be done and they do it willingly.”
Beebe is the principal investigator of NASA’s Planetary Data System (PDS) Atmospheres Node, which is housed at the NMSU Department of Astronomy and has the responsibility of archiving and making available to the world at large all of the atmosphere-focused data returned by spacecraft exploring planets and moons in the solar system.
She continues to work with the European Space Agency to archive data for its planetary instruments, and she also serves on the committee of the International Planetary Data Alliance, which works to get all spacefaring nations to use the standard data access and format protocols of the PDS. She has also been the chair of the Committee on Lunar and Planetary Exploration and a member of the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council.
She has worked on Voyager, Galileo and Cassini spacecraft mission data and used the Hubble Space Telescope for a Jupiter/Saturn observing program early in its mission.
Beebe is the recipient of the 2003 Harold Masursky Award by the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Association. The award recognizes and honors individuals who have rendered outstanding service to planetary science and exploration through engineering, managerial, programmatic or public service activities. She received NMSU’s prestigious Westhafer Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research, or Creative Activity in 1989. In 1998, Beebe received NMSU’s Dennis W. Darnall Faculty Achievement Award, which recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated broad-based accomplishments in teaching, research and services to their profession.
Beebe was nominated for her award by James L. Green, director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA.