Professor Joseph Veverka teaches Astronomy and Planetary Sciences and is the Chair of the Astronomy Department at Cornell University. Since graduating from Harvard in 1970, he has become a leader in the exploration of the solar system by spacecraft, having been involved in the first search-for-life experiments on Mars during the Mariner 9 and Viking missions in the 1970's and in the Voyager grand tour of the outer planets which visited Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune during the decade from 1979 to 1989.
He is currently involved in the Galileo mission to Jupiter which continues to study the volcanoes of Io and the subsurface ocean of Europa, in the Mars Global Surveyor mission which is mapping the surface of Mars in unprecedented detail, and in the Near Earth Asteroid Mission (NEAR) which is on its way to explore asteroid 433 Eros. Realizing that asteroids and comets preserve the best clues to the building blocks out of which planets such as Earth were formed, Professor Veverka has led the efforts to explore these tiny but very important members of the solar family. He has received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and many other honors.
Professor Veverka serves on numerous advisory committees as a strong
advocate of a vigorous United States program of space exploration which
emphasizes the use of clever instruments and robotic devices to study the
planets in a safe and cost-effective way. He was instrumental in initiating
NASA's new DISCOVERY program of small, inexpensive, planetary missions,
and has been selected by NASA to lead one of these efforts, the Comet Nucleus
Tour (CONTOUR), which will be launched in 2002 to carry out the detailed
exploration of three comets.