NASA Administrator Michael Griffin awarded the agency’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal posthumously to acclaimed American astronomer and astrophysicist John Bahcall. His lifetime of achievement included work on development of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Griffin presented the medal today to Bahcall’s widow, Neta Bahcall, during a ceremony at the 207th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington.

In addition to work on the Hubble, Bahcall was honored for extraordinary service to NASA’s space astronomy program and leadership of the National Research Council’s Decadal Survey. The Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal recognizes significant scientific contributions toward achieving NASA’s missions of exploration and discovery.

“In his 70 years, John Bahcall was a legend in this community,” Griffin said. “I have followed the career of John Bahcall and long admired his scientific accomplishments and passionate advocacy for space-based astronomy.”

Among Bahcall’s five decades of accomplishments was his groundbreaking work in the 1960s toward explaining the scientific mysteries of the sun. He later partnered with astronomers Lyman Spitzer and George Field to develop the bold concept that became Hubble.

Bahcall was a Richard Black Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., and a guest lecturer at Princeton University. He served as president of the American Astronomical Society and president elect of the American Physical Society. In 1992 he received the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Science from President Clinton.

“John always did what he loved, and he did it until the end,” said Neta Bahcall. She is a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton. “We had an incredible 40 years together. We were best friends; we were scientific colleagues; and we were the love of each other’s lives.”

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