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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics



    Stamatios M. Krimigis Wins AIAA 2014 James A. Van Allen Space Environments Award
    Honored for Pioneering Studies of the Radiation Environment Around all Solar System Planets

    June 11, 2014 – Reston, Va. – Stamatios M. “Tom” Krimigis, an AIAA Fellow, and emeritus head, Space Department, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APU), Laurel, Md., has won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) 2014 James A. Van Allen Space Environments Award. Krimigis received the award .Krimigis received the award at the AIAA Mid-Atlantic Section 2014 Awards Banquet on June 10, 2014, in Baltimore, Maryland.

    The James A. Van Allen Space Environments Award recognizes outstanding contributions to space and planetary environment knowledge and interactions as applied to the advancement of aeronautics and astronautics. The award honors Prof. James A. Van Allen, an outstanding internationally recognized scientist, credited with the early discovery of the Earth’s “Van Allen Radiation Belts.” Krimigis is being honored “for pioneering studies of the radiation environment around all solar system planets and of interplanetary charge particles from Mercury to the local interstellar medium.”

    “I am grateful to AIAA, the nominator for the award and the Awards Committee for selecting me for this honor,” said Krimigis. “The Van Allen Award is a terrific distinction for a space scientist, given that Van Allen was truly the father of space science. This award holds special significance for me because I had been a Van Allen student and collaborator in the 1960s. The excitement at the University of Iowa in those early years was palpable, we knew that the instruments we were building would fly into unknown territory and make discoveries. Van Allen gave me the opportunity to build a pioneering instrument for the first U.S. mission to Mars and get data back when I was still a graduate student. I have been hooked on the space science adventure ever since. Van Allen taught me the discipline of hard work, the single mindedness required in building space hardware, and the excitement of doing space science. For me, receiving the Van Allen Award is the culmination of a dream come true.”

    Krimigis has made several important contributions to our understanding of the radiation environments of planets within our solar system. Working with Professor James Van Allen, Krimigis determined that Earth’s magnetosphere contains helium in abundance compared to protons, allowing investigators to determine that the helium was not interplanetary in origin, but rather from the Earth’s ionosphere. Krimigis furthered his work in this area, leading the Active Magnetosphere Particle Tracer Explorer (AMPTE) program, a collaborative U.S.–German–British program that created the first man-made comet in space in 1984. Krimigis’ other accomplishments include placing an upper limit on the intrinsic dipole magnet moment of Venus; collaborating on the creation of the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging mission (MESSENGER); serving as principal investigator for the Low Energy Charged Particle (LECP) experiment on Voyagers 1 and 2—which discovered that the plasma physics of Jupiter and Saturn are quite different than that of Earth; and serving as the principal investigator for the Cassini mission to Saturn and Titan, where instruments of his invention are returning neutral ion images of Saturn’s magnetosphere as well as in-situ measurements of electrons and ion composition.

    Krimigis’ other honors include the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award from JHU/APU; the Committee on Space Research’s 2002 Space Science Award; the Smithsonian Institution’s 2002 Trophy for Achievement; and three Aviation Week and Space Technology “Laurels in Space” awards—in 1996 and 2001, for the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission and in 2001, for the New Horizons mission. Krimigis is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    For more information about the James A. Van Allen Space Environments Award or the AIAA Honors and Award program, please contact Carol Stewart at or at 703.264.7623.



    AIAA is the largest aerospace professional society in the world, serving a diverse range of more than 35,000 individual members from 80 countries, and 100 corporate members. AIAA members help make the world safer, more connected, more accessible, and more prosperous. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.



    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
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