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AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize

Supported by The Fodor Family Trust


The Prize

The Association’s oldest award, the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, supported by The Fodor Family Trust, was established in 1923 with funds donated by Newcomb Cleveland of New York City and was originally called the AAAS Thousand Dollar Prize. It is now known as the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, and its value is $25,000. In addition to the prize funds, the winner receives complimentary registration and reimbursement for reasonable travel and hotel expenses to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting in order to accept the prize.



The prize is awarded to the author or authors of an outstanding paper published in the Research Articles or Reports sections of Science. Each annual contest starts with the first issue of June and ends with the last issue of the following May.

An eligible paper is one that includes original research data, theory, or synthesis; is a fundamental contribution to basic knowledge or is a technical achievement of far-reaching consequence; and is a first-time publication of the author’s own work. Reference to pertinent earlier work by the author may be included to give perspective.


Nomination Procedures

Throughout the year, readers of Science are invited to nominate papers appearing in the Research Articles or Reports sections. Nominations must be submitted in our online form by June 30.

Please note: self-nominations will not be accepted for the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize. Final selection is determined by a panel of distinguished scientists appointed by the editor-in-chief of Science.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is committed to equal opportunity for all persons, without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or other protected categories. AAAS seeks as diverse a pool of award nominations as possible, including as well a wide range of disciplines, institutional types, and geographical locations.


2023 Recipients

522 Productions

"Seismic detection of the martian core"

by Simon C Stähler*, Amir Khan, W. Bruce Banerdt, Philippe Lognonné, Domenico Giardini, Savas Ceylan, Mélanie Drilleau, A. Cecilia Duran, Raphaël F. Garcia, Quancheng Huang, Doyeon Kim, Vedran Lekic, Henri Samuel, Martin Schimmel, Nicholas Schmerr, David Sollberger, Éléonore Stutzmann, Zongbo Xu, Daniele Antonangeli, Constantinos Charalambous, Paul M. Davis, Jessica C. E. Irving, Taichi Kawamura, Martin Knapmeyer, Ross Maguire, Angela G. Marusiak, Mark P. Panning, Clément Perrin, Ana-Catalina Plesa, Attilio Rivoldini, Cédric Schmelzbach, Géraldine Zenhäusern, Éric Beucler, John Clinton, Nikolaj Dahmen, Martin van Driel, Tamara Gudkova, Anna Horleston, W. Thomas Pike, Matthieu Plasman, Suzanne E. Smrekar was awarded the 2023 AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize.   
*Corresponding Author

The core of a planet plays a prominent role because it governs many of the fundamental processes—from dynamo action and magnetic-field generation to mantle convection—that affect the surface through volcanic and tectonic activity and may influence the early climate through magnetic shielding of the atmosphere. There has been considerable uncertainty regarding the nature of Mars’ core, and the size of the martian core is of particular interest because of its notable impact on the planet’s evolution.

Since the Viking lander program, started in 1975, we have known of seismic activity on Mars as evidenced by “marsquakes.” However, the landers utilized in the Viking program were ill-equipped to measure these marsquakes and scientists had to wait until the Mars InSight lander, launched in 2018, to get an accurate picture of seismic activity on the red planet. The ability to properly detect, measure, and record a marsquake on the surface of Mars allowed the interdisciplinary team of Stähler et al. to “see” into the interior of the planet and visualize the martian core for the first time. As the authors state: “the detection of seismic waves reflected from the core stands not only to refine the insights gained from studying the chemistry of the martian rocks, whose siderophile element depletion and isotopic signature point to a core-forming event early in Mars’ history, but also to considerably improve our understanding of the deep interior of Mars.”

With a single seismometer mounted on a lander on a planet over 50 million miles away, an interdisciplinary team of seismologists, geophysicists, geochemists, and others were able to not only narrow down the size of the martian core but also confirm it was in a liquid state and give suggestions for the chemical composition (such a feat on Earth would normally involve upwards of thousands of seismometers deployed across the surface of the planet). Stähler et al.’s findings have important implications for the heat budget and thermal evolution of Mars, but have all raised many important questions, e.g., if the core is liquid, why is there no present-day magnetic field? This and other questions are actively being researched and will no doubt lead to a flood of studies over the coming years.

The conclusions of Stähler et al. not only have implications for understanding Mars itself, but they also are crucial for understanding the processes that have driven the formation of Earth and continue to drive the evolution of our own planet. This paper and other work by the InSight team will serve as a roadmap for future planetary missions in our solar system and eventually beyond.

Read a list of past recipients.