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Tue Oct 6 20:51:31 PDT 2020

Volume XXVII, Issue 63


Table of Contents

1. A Tribute to Edward Shelley


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A Tribute to Edward Shelley

From: Stephen Fuselier (stephen.fuselier at swri.org)

Dr. Edward G. Shelley, a pioneer in the study of the composition of plasmas within Earth’s magnetosphere and at comets, died in Ashland Oregon on 9 September, 2020 at the age of 87. His numerous instruments flew on a wide range of satellite missions and discoveries from these instruments have changed fundamentally our views of the sources and dynamics of plasmas in the Earth’s magnetosphere. The development of these instruments and the incredible wealth of data from them sparked the careers of many scientists and engineers in the Space Physics community.

Ed was born in Watford City, North Dakota on 8 January 1933. He met Betty, the love of his life, very early and was married in 1952. He was drafted into the army and was stationed in Dachau, Germany, where Betty joined him. Betty and Ed were married 68 years. Ed did not plan to go to college (his occupation was listed as “furniture worker” on his marriage certificate); however, he was influenced and encouraged by those he was stationed with and he learned that he could get an earlier discharge if he did so. He used the GI bill to attend first Portland State University from 1955-1956, then Oregon State College, where he received his BS in Physics and Mathematics in 1959. From 1959 – 1966, Ed held three concurrent positions: Graduate Student and Research Associate at Stanford University and Research Scientist at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, Palo Alto Research Laboratory (now the Lockheed-Martin Advanced Technology Center). He received his MS in physics in 1961 and his PhD in nuclear physics in 1967 from Stanford University. Ed developed his space flight instrument design skills through his concurrent positions at Lockheed and Stanford University. This development was facilitated through the unique environment and opportunities at Lockheed, coupled with the extraordinary concentration of scientific and engineering talent at Stanford and Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratory. 

More than a decade into the discovery of the Earth’s magnetosphere, it was widely believed that the energetic plasma in the magnetosphere was of solar wind origin. That is, that it consisted primarily of protons with a small fraction of alpha particles. Ions heavier than alpha particles, it was concluded, could only exist at very low energies in the magnetosphere. These conclusions were so widely accepted that when Ed flew the first of a series of energetic ion mass spectrometers in 1969 on a polar-orbiting Air Force satellite, the mass range went up to only mass/charge of ~8. However, Ed and his colleagues at Lockheed recognized that there was an increase in counts at the top of the mass range. It was the early years of space exploration and, at Lockheed, Ed had the opportunity to fly a new version of his mass spectrometers on an Air Force mission just 18 months later. This version had a mass range up to mass/charge of 32. At a spring AGU meeting in 1972, Ed presented a talk entitled “Precipitating energetic heavy ions observed at auroral latitudes”. This talk, and the subsequent 1972 JGR paper authored with his colleagues Dick Johnson and Dick Sharp, introduced the space community to a new source of energetic heavy ions like O+: the high latitude ionosphere. Two years later in another JGR paper, Ed demonstrated that energetic He+ in the magnetosphere was also from the high-latitude ionosphere. Two years after that, Ed published a GRL paper entitled “Satellite observations of an ionospheric acceleration mechanism”. In this paper, he showed the first observational evidence of upward field-aligned acceleration of oxygen ions. Thus, the oxygen in his 1972 paper was energized and directly injected into the Earth’s magnetosphere from the high latitude ionosphere. In 4 years, Ed’s pioneering observations upended the conventional wisdom on the origins of plasmas in the magnetosphere and created an entirely new research area on the acceleration and consequences of ionospheric ions in the magnetosphere.

Measuring plasma composition in the different regions of space is challenging and requires extraordinarily exacting instrumentation. Ed excelled at designing and building the best instrument for a particular region. He designed and built auroral particle experiments on multiple Department of Defense Satellites, was a co-I on FAST and IMAGE and co-I and lead instrument designer on plasma composition experiments for ATS-5, S3-3, the International Sun-Earth Explorer, SCATHA, and CRRES. He was principal investigator on energetic ion mass spectrometers on Dynamics Explorer, AMPTE, and GGS/Polar.

Ed and his colleagues at Lockheed developed an international collaboration at Lockheed, starting with an exchange of team members between Lockheed and the Max Planck Institute in Garching, Germany in the 1960’s. In 1972, this international collaboration expanded to include the University of Bern in Bern, Switzerland. These international collaborations have extended over decades and encompassed many space missions. For Ed, the long and rewarding collaboration with the University of Bern included a guest professorship at the University in 1990-1991, design and development of the ion optics for the GIOTTO ion mass spectrometer with Professor Hans Balsiger, and subsequent support for the ROSINA mass spectrometer development for the Rosetta mission. Mass spectrometry was essential to the successes of these two comet missions.

Ed retired from Lockheed-Martin in 1997, having worked in, and ultimately managed, the Space Sciences Laboratory over a span of 38 years. He was author or co-author on approximately 150 publications. In his retirement, Ed enjoyed sailing, traveling, and drinking fine wines with his family, friends, and colleagues. He also participated in many NASA review panels and mission proposal committees, helping to chart the future of space plasma physics at NASA.

In his tenure at Lockheed, Ed was an extraordinary leader, colleague, and mentor to many scientists and engineers in the field. His creative project management, instrument design, and laboratory technical skills are legendary. Travel and meetings with Ed were always an adventure and Ed enjoyed a good time with his colleagues and friends. Probably one of the better examples of this enjoyment was when he demonstrated opening a bottle of wine with a shoe at an AGU honor’s banquet, in full tux, using a bottle from AGU president and longtime friend Marcia Neugebauer. 

Ed was the true embodiment of the American Geophysical Union’s motto of “unselfish cooperation in research” and we will miss him very much.

Stephen Fuselier
Jack Quinn
Goetz Paschmann
Hans Balsiger
William Peterson
Martin Walt
Eric Hertzberg
Richard Vondrak


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SPA Newsletter Editorial Team: Peter Chi (Editor), Guan Le (Co-Editor), Sharon Uy, Marjorie Sowmendran, and Kevin Addison

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