Cornell History: Astronomer wins top NASA award
June 22, 2005
Jim Houck, the Kenneth A. Wallace Professor of Astronomy, wins the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his work as developer and principal investigator for the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared spectrograph. It detects infrared radiation from distant objects, allowing researchers to determine their chemical composition based on the way the emitted light is distributed along the spectrum. The spectrograph, which is 100 times more sensitive than its predecessors, penetrates thick clouds of dust deep in the universe, offering new insight into the formation of stars, galaxies and planetary systems.