Legendary Space Physicist Frank McDonald Passes Away

Legendary Space Physicist Frank McDonald Passes Away

Frank McDonald, a legendary figure in the field of solar and space physics, died unexpectedly on Friday. 

McDonald was a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland’s Institute for Physical Science and Technology and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS).   A brief biography in one of its publications credits him as being one of the pioneers in the study of space physics and cosmic ray astrophysics who collaborated closely with James Van Allen, the discoverer of the Van Allen belts of radiation that encircle the Earth. 

McDonald spent most of his career with NASA and flew instruments on many spacecraft.    “With his many space-borne instruments, McDonald explored vast regions of our solar system, from the orbit of Mercury with the twin Helios spacecraft to distances of over 100 astronomical units with the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft” the NAS account continues.  

A NASA biography notes that before joining the University of Maryland in 1989, he was NASA’s Chief Scientist from 1982-1987 and director of Goddard Space Flight Center’s Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics from 1970-1982.

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