The Société astronomique de France (SAF, the French astronomical society) awarded its prestigious international Jules-Janssen Prize to Alessandro Morbidelli (Italy – 2018). The ceremony will take place in Cassini Room of the Paris Observatory. The award will be bestowed by Teresa Lago, General Secretary of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
Alessandro Morbidelli, Italian national, is Director of research at CNRS, working in Laboratoire Lagrange of Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, in Nice. He obtained his Ph.D. in Mathematics in Belgium in 1991. He works on formation and dynamical evolution of planetary systems. He first modeled the transport of near-Earth asteroids and meteoroids from the asteroid belt to our planet. Then, he studied the formation of terrestrial planets and developed the first model explaining the origin of Earth’s water from carbonaceous chondrites. With other colleagues he developed the “Nice model”, which explains the observed structure of the outer Solar System as a result of a phase of dynamical instability of the giant planets. More recently, he studied the formation of super-Earth planets close to their parent star and predicted an anti-correlation between the existence of these planets and that of gas-giants like Jupiter. He is also active in public outreach, through public talks and collaboration with scientific journalists from newspapers and magazines in France and worldwide. He participated to the documentary “Birth of the Oceans” of National Geographic, « Océans, les derniers mystères de la Lune » of Thalassa (France télévision) and “Origin of Uranus and Neptune” of the Japanese NHK. He was also a member of the scientific council for the exhibition “Meteorites!”, ending end of this year at the Natural History Museum in Paris.
During his tenure as president of SAF from 1895 to 1897, the famous astronomer Jules Janssen (1824-1907) created several awards for the Society, the best known and most prestigious one is bearing his name. The Society has awarded the Jules-Janssen Prize annually since 1897 in recognition of the international value of the person’s scientific work as well as for his/her contribution to the wide diffusion of sciences of the universe. SAF gives the award alternatively to a French astronomer and a foreign astronomer. Notable past winners include Percival Lowell (1904), Max Wolf (1912), Robert Esnault-Pelterie (1930), Albert Einstein (1931), André Danjon (1950), Evry Schatzman (1973), Audouin Dollfus (1993), Michel Mayor (1998), Jean-Paul Zahn (2003), Françoise Combes (2017).
Founded by Camille Flammarion, the Société astronomique de France has celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2017. Bringing together professional and amateur astronomers since its inception, SAF holds a unique place in history in spreading what we now call the sciences of the universe to the greatest possible audience.
SOURCE : French astronomical society