April 29, 2013
Washington, DC -- AURA announced today that Dr. Valentín Martínez Pillet will assume the role of Director of the National Solar Observatory (NSO) effective August 1, 2013. Dr. Martínez Pillet will succeed Dr. Steven Keil, who has served as NSO Director since April 1999.
Dr. Martínez Pillet is a Senior Scientist at the Instituto de Astrofíscia de Canarias, where he is the Co-Principal Investigator for the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager instrument to be flown on the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter mission, and Principal Investigator for the Imaging Magnetograph Experiment that has flown as part of the Sunrise balloon-borne telescope. In announcing the appointment, Dr. William Smith, President of AURA, said "Dr. Martínez Pillet is an internationally recognized scientist, and brings a detailed vision for the future of the NSO and solar physics. He is well positioned to lead NSO through the coming years in which important scientific and institutional transitions will take place.
NSO advances our knowledge of the Sun--both as an astronomical object and as the dominant external influence on Earth--by providing forefront observational opportunities to the research community. The mission includes the operation of cutting-edge facilities, conducting solar research, and education and public outreach. Solar astronomers use NSO’s facilities to explore fundamental properties of the Sun, and to examine the causes of solar eruptions, coronal mass ejections, and other drivers of space weather that could inflict potentially devastating societal and economic impacts on our nation's space assets, power grid, and communication systems. Accurate space weather forecasting from NSO and other facilities helps mitigate such impacts.
Dr. Martínez Pillet will manage NSO during the development of NSO's flagship facility, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST). ATST is under construction at the Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory site on Maui, Hawaii and will be the world's most powerful solar observatory. ATST brings solar physics into the era of large telescope, sensitive photon-gathering capability.
Dr. Dan Clemens of Boston University, Chair of the AURA Board, said, "Dr. Martínez Pillet brings to the NSO vital large-project experience as well as a strong science-centered approach. Together, these will help drive the NSO, and especially the ATST project, to spectacular discoveries and a much better understanding of our Sun.
The National Solar Observatory is operated by AURA under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. NSF is also funding construction of the ATST.
William S. Smith, Jr.
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy
Phone: (202) 483-2101