Richard Monastersky, senior writer for science
issues at The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Diane Tennant,
staff writer for The Virginian-Pilot, have won the American
Geophysical Union’s 2002 journalism awards.

Monastersky won the David Perlman Award for Excellence in
Science Journalism – News for “A Plucky Spacecraft Explores a
Distant Asteroid,” published March 2, 2001. It recounts the story
of the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Shoemaker
mission to 433 Eros, an asteroid orbiting some 315 million
kilometers [196 million miles] from Earth. After circling Eros for a
year, the “plucky” probe made a soft landing, sending back 67
images during its descent and beating odds described as 99 to one.
Monastersky vividly describes the scientific importance of the
mission, along with the fiscal constraints and human interactions
that shaped it.

Tennant won the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science
Journalism – Features for “A Cosmic Tale,” a seven part series that
was published June 24-30, 2001, in the Norfolk-based Virginian-
Pilot. (In keeping with competition rules, only three parts were
submitted for judging.) Tennant recounts a local story, albeit one
that began 35 million years ago, when a meteor impact devastated
what is now southeastern Virginia and affected life worldwide. She
tells how U.S. Geological Survey scientists discovered the long
buried impact crater, and she provides her readers a wealth of
highly readable information on planetary science, seismology,
ocean science, and related fields.

Tennant’s “A Cosmic Tale” may be read on the Virginian-Pilot
web site at;
Monastersky’s “A Plucky Spacecraft Explores a Distant Asteroid”
may be read on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s site

The AGU science journalism awards honor David Perlman,
science editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, and the late Walter
Sullivan, science writer for The New York Times. They consist of a
plaque and $2,000 stipend, “for work that enhances public
awareness and understanding of the sciences encompassed by
AGU: the study of the Earth, Sun, solar system, and their
environments and components.” A record number of entries in
various media was received for this year’s awards.

The 2002 Sullivan and Perlman Awards will be presented on May
29, during Honors Evening at AGU’s Spring Meeting in
Washington, D.C.


Note for journalists:

Richard Monastersky may be contacted at
or +1 (202) 466-1729.

Diane Tennant may be contacted at or +1
(757) 446-2478.