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Planetary Scientist and AAAS Member Michael Drake Dead at 65

Professor Michael Drake passed away on September 21, 2011 at the ageof 65. He is survived by a wife, two children, a grandchild, as well as countlessfans, friends and former students. Drake's contributions to our understanding of the universe are as vastas his work. 

The University of Arizona professor spent his career understandinghow planets form, and how life formed on Earth. He contributed to numerous NASAmissions, including the Mars Odyssey mission that revealed ice on the redplanet.

After a childhood in England, he received a Ph.D. in Geologyin 1972 from the University of Oregon. He spent the majority of his career atthe University of Arizona, where he became the Head of the Department of PlanetarySciences and the Director of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at theUniversity of Arizona, positions he held for almost two decades.

He heldimportant roles in several NASA missions and was instrumental to the planningof the upcoming Osiris-Rex mission which will send a spacecraft to asteroid 1999-RQ36, thenreturn samples to Earth, helping us learn whether asteroids "seeded"life on Earth. The mission iscurrently set for a 2016 launch. Drake wasalways dedicated to the discovery of our universe, and, according to his wife, heworked on the Osiris Rex mission until the very end.

Drake also contributed to NASA's Cassini mission that has greatly expanded our understanding of Saturn and its moons.