Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

NASA-award for Michael Hesse

Professor Michael Hesse commitment to space physics honoured by NASA.

Michael Hesse
HONOURED: Michael Hesse, professor of space physics.

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- Congratulations!

- I feel both stunned and deeply humbled. I am so grateful for receiving this recognition, says Michael Hesse.

- Why do the NASA-organization want to honor you?

- The citation reads: For exemplary service to NASA leading Goddard Space Flight Center’s Heliophysics Science Division. I was fortunate enough to be able to create a world-leading modeling and modeling service organization. I also has had the opportunity to enable or support the development of key NASA science missions. Most notably I supported the science definition and a critical instrument on the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) - a mission designed to study a fundamental process shaping our space environment. Within NASA, I helped pave the way to consider small spacecraft for research utility, and I fostered an unusually strong commitment to diversity in my organization. Lastly, I succeeded in remaining a productive research scientist.

-Tell us more about your research for NASA?

- My personal research involved many space physics topics, but most prominently a process called “magnetic reconnection.” Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process, which can explosive release energy stored in large magnetic fields. It is the engine behind solar eruptions, magnetic storms in the Earth’s space environment, and it plays a key role in many astrophysics and laboratory plasmas. Understanding magnetic reconnection is also the goal of the MMS mission.

- What is your greatest contribution to space physics?

- I led the NASA organization charged with researching the space environment from the sun to the planets. This includes the formation and evolution of eruptions in the solar environment, and the interaction of these eruptions with charged particles and electromagnetic field in interplanetary space and with the space environment of the planets. My organization also translated scientific insights into societal applications, by developing tools and means to predict or mitigate the harmful space environment effects collectively referred to as “space weather.”

- Space technology has become a ordinary life-activity, but what will be the next big thing as you see it?

- My personal feeling is that we will go to Mars, perhaps by way of the moon. I feel that space travel is a destiny for humankind, and it is only a question of time until we move out to other planets. This is a big task, which lends itself ideally to international collaborations. It also requires understanding the space environment - hence the research done in my old organization and elsewhere, for example at the Birkeland Centre for Space Science here in Bergen, contributes to enabling these endeavors. This, as well as the excellence of the research here, make it very exciting for me to be here.

- You are invited to NASA research division in Virginia June 15. Will you go there?

- Yes, that is my plan.