Dr. Gordon Shepherd Receives the COSPAR William Nordberg Medal

In June, the international Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) has announced that Gordon Shepherd had been awarded the COSPAR William Nordberg Medal. It was stated that he would receive the award on August 1st during the 41st COSPAR Scientific Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey. On July 15th, after an attempted coup in Turkey, the COSPAR officials found that they were speaking to different representatives, who offered to have President Erdogan give an invited talk at the Assembly. However, the Assembly was later cancelled by the COSPAR, so Gordon received the medal by mail. The concluding paragraph of his citation follows:

Professor Shepherd is one of the world’s foremost scientists studying the physics of the Earth’s middle and upper atmosphere. He not only understands deeply the workings of the Earth’s middle and upper atmosphere, but he is also a superb innovator of sophisticated instruments that continually push the envelope”.

For the Assembly, Gordon was asked to submit in advance a brief acceptance of the award, which he would have spoken had he been there, which follows:

I am both honoured and humbled to receive this medal. William Nordberg and I were contemporaries; he was born one year before me, and took up his position at NASA two years after I was appointed to the University of Saskatchewan. Alas, we never met. I feel particularly celebrated at receiving a COSPAR medal, as COSPAR is the international organization with which I have been most deeply involved. I attended my first Scientific Assembly in Prague, in 1969. I remember well the one in Canada in 1982, and again in 2008, when I chaired the Executive Committee for the Assembly, while serving eight years

as a Bureau member. I am totally indebted to those many colleagues and family members who supported me in the marvellous activities over the years that led to this award”.

The latest issue of the Space Research Today magazine from December 2016 included an article about Dr. Shepherd’s achievement:

Professor Gordon Shepherd has made many distinguished contributions to our understanding of the upper atmosphere through the development of clever instruments and scientific insights revolutionizing our view of its dynamics and chemistry. Professor Shepherd is a pioneering scientist who has continuously developed instrumentation to measure key features of the upper atmosphere.”

Dr. Gordon Shepherd (Photo Credit: Gordon Shepherd)

Dr. Gordon Shepherd
(Photo Credit: Gordon Shepherd)

Here is a brief biography of William Nordberg:

“William Nordberg moved from Austria to the USA in 1953, and was appointed in 1959 to the Goddard Space Flight Center within the recently created NASA. Under his leadership in 1960, the first weather satellite series, called TIROS, were launched, the first to give information about cloud formation and hurricanes. These were followed by three other satellite programs: ITOS, Nimbus  and Landsat. In 1975, he was awarded the William T. Pecora Award and the highest NASA award, the Distinguished Service Medal. In 1974, he was made director of Space Applications at NASA. Today Nordberg is considered the “father” of the weather and remote sensing satellites.  NASA presents the annual William Nordberg Memorial Award for Earth Science, and COSPAR awards the biennial William Nordberg Medal. William Nordberg died of skin cancer in 1976”.

By: Dr. Gordon Shepherd