Tim van Hoolst, project leader in planetary science at the Royal Observatory Belgium won the 2019 Runcorn-Florensky Medal of the European Geosciences Union for his seminal contributions to the field of geodesy and geophysics of the terrestrial planets and satellites and for leadership in planetary geodesy.
His field of research is the rotation and tides of planets and satellites and how these can be used to explore the planet’s interior structure. He participates in numerous spatial missions such as BepiColombo to Mercury and JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) to the Galilean moons of Jupiter, in which he is the chair of the working group on the interior and geophysics of the moons. He is also Co-I of ExoMars 2020 in which LaRa, a radio-science instrument of which the Observatory is the PI, will be integrated.
One of Van Hoolst’s most important contributions is to our understanding of the rotational dynamics of Mercury and of icy satellites, whose sub-surface oceans decouple their interior from the solid but deformable ice shells. Van Hoolst and his team have also worked on determining the interior structure of Mars.
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