George W. Goddard Award in Space and Airborne Optics: Giovanni Fazio

Giovanni Fazio, a senior physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is awarded the 2019 George W. Goddard Award in Space and Airborne Optics
02 October 2019
Giovanni Fazio. Credit: NASA

"Dr. Giovanni Fazio is a giant in the field of infrared astronomical instrumentation," says Lisa Storrie-Lombardi, Spitzer and NuSTAR project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "As the principal investigator of the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) on the Spitzer Space Telescope, his work made possible one of the most exciting scientific discoveries of 2017-seven Earth-sized planets orbiting the dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. This is one of NASA's highest impact science results ever."

Fazio, a senior physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is being recognized for his exceptional achievements in the area of infrared instruments with the 2019 SPIE George W. Goddard Award in Space and Airborne Optics.

In the 1960s, Fazio pioneered the development of gamma-ray astronomy using balloon-borne telescopes and initiated construction of a 10-meter optical telescope at the Whipple Observatory in Arizona to search for ultra-high energy gamma rays. Throughout his career, Fazio has led work on ground-based infrared instruments including infrared bolometers, infrared cameras using many kinds of detector arrays, and the solid-state photomultiplier. These instruments have been used for observations of everything from the solar corona to the distant universe.

"Dr. Fazio's work has had a profound impact on the entire field of infrared astrophysics and all of the scientific disciplines that now thrive on infrared data," says Storrie-Lombardi. "Besides being a brilliant instrument builder, he is a role model as a scientist and human being. Whenever I see Giovanni he is always interested in looking to the future, new scientific questions, and what we can learn."

The SPIE George W. Goddard Award in Space and Airborne Optics is presented in recognition of exceptional achievement in optical or photonic technology or instrumentation for earth or planetary or astronomical science, reconnaissance, or surveillance from airborne or space platforms. Fazio received the award at SPIE Optics + Photonics in August 2019.

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