Sunday, November 05, 2006

Remembering Fred Whipple

The American astronomer Fred Whipple was born a hundred years ago today.

Fred did many things, He discovered six comets, and suggested correctly that comets were 'dirty snowballs' rather than 'flying sandbanks'. He co-invented a cutting device to produce chaff to protect allied aircraft from enemy radar. In 1946 he invented the Meteor Bumper, a thin outer metal skin to protect spacecraft and satellites from meteors.

Overall Fred had a 'good innings' - he had long-lived parents too, with his fathetr living to 81 and his mother Celestia to 87. In 1999 he was named as a consultant on the NASA contour mission, the oldest person ever to accept such a post. He died in 2004 aged 97.

In 1933 he discovered asteriod 1252, which he named Celestia, after his mother.

Asteroid 1940 - Whipple - is named after him.

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