Gerard Peter Kuiper: KAO's Namesake
(By Jan Wee, based on an article by Dale Cruikshank)
Who is the man for whom the KAO has been named? The Kuiper Airborne Observatory was dedicated in May of 1975 in honor of a man who many today regard as the father of modern planetary science. Born in the Netherlands ninety years ago (12/7/05) and educa ted at Leiden University as an astronomer, Kuiper came to the US in 1933. During his lifetime he worked at Lick Observatory, Harvard, Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago, and the University of Arizona.
Kuiper played an influential role in the development of infrared airborne astronomy in the 1960's and 1970's. In 1967 the NASA four engine jet Convair 990 aircraft with a telescope aboard became available for infrared studies at an altitude of 40,000 fee t. Kuiper used it extensively for spectroscopy of the Sun, stars, and planets, discovering things about them that could not be found from ground-based observatories.
The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, a research and educational unit in which many planetary scientists have been trained, was established under his guidance at the University of Arizona.
Kuiper was a demanding individual whose routine included hard work and long hours for not only himself, but his students and co-workers. Was he worthy of having this national research facility, the KAO, named after him? If you are not sure of your answer , read more about this world famous astronomer: