[amsat-bb] SK: Mario Acuña, LU9HBG

Tom Clark, K3IO tom.k3io at gmail.com
Thu Mar 5 21:25:33 PST 2009

It is with great sadness that I learned today of the passing of a 
long-term friend of AMSAT, Mario Acuña, LU9HBG. Mario was a very senior 
scientist/engineer at NASA Goddard where he made his name by providing 
magnetometers for nearly every deep-space and planetary mission since 
the 1970's. His vitae can be viewed at 
http://ssed.gsfc.nasa.gov/vitae/acuna.html, and a nice writeup on him 
can be found at 

Mario never bothered to get a US call, although he often had HF 
schedules with his relatives & friends in Argentina. In years past, 
Mario and I were contemporaries at Goddard, and we often commiserated 
about NASA's problems of "getting old"/"mature government bureaucracy" 
and about the dearth of young innovative scientists who enjoyed 
inventing new instruments. His loss hits me especially hard.

When a young Martin Sweeting wanted to fly magnetometers for navigation 
on the earliest UoSAT's, Mario was the "go to" guy that put Martin on 
the right track. Since magnetometers are biased by metal and electrical 
currents in a spacecraft, Mario arranged for testing of the early UoSATs.

When Jan, Karl and I were trying to minimize radiation damage in 
critical Phase-3 components (like the IHU and CMOS logic), Mario was our 
mentor in helping to figure out the best way to minimize damage and 
teaching us how to apply tantalum to the top and bottom of ICs.


GSFC Director Rob Strain posted this note earlier today:
> From: On Behalf Of GSFC-PAO
> Sent: Thursday, March 05, 2009 3:05 PM
> To: gsfc_all at listserv.gsfc.nasa.gov 
> <mailto:gsfc_all at listserv.gsfc.nasa.gov>
> Subject: Center Director Mourns Passing of GSFC Employees
> Colleagues:
> It with profound sadness to inform you that Goddard has tragically 
> lost several members of its family in the past few days.
> Dr. Mario Acuña, a Senior Astrophysicist in the Planetary 
> Magnetospheres Lab, passed away last night, in the comfort of his 
> home, surrounded by his family and loved ones. Dr. Acuña was world 
> renown for his work in magnetic fields and plasmas in the solar 
> system, and is one of most prolific and accomplished scientists to 
> ever work at Goddard. He has been an Instrument Scientist, 
> Co-Investigator or Principal Investigator in multiple NASA and ESA 
> missions such as Pioneer, Voyager, Mariner, Giotto, Tether, ISPM, and 
> many others, and the Principal Investigator or Lead Scientist for the 
> magnetometer investigations on the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous 
> Mission, Mars Global Surveyor, Lunar Prospector, Messenger and STEREO. 
> He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2007 and was 
> honored by NASA with numerous prestigious awards including the GSFC 
> John C. Lindsay and Moe I. Schneebaum Memorial Awards, the Medal for 
> Exceptional Scientific Achievement, the Distinguished Service Medal 
> and a Presidential Meritorious Rank Award. His death follows a valiant 
> fight against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood. He leaves a 
> devoted wife, Barbara; sons Jamie, Andrew, and Daniel; daughter Marta, 
> and five grandchildren. 

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