2018 Farinella Prize Awarded to Francis Nimmo for Work on Giant Planets’ Satellite Systems
September 19, 2018

2018 Farinella Prize Awarded to Francis Nimmo for Work on Giant Planets’ Satellite Systems

Prof Francis Nimmo, an English scientist working at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been awarded the eighth Paolo Farinella Prize in 2018 for his contributions to understanding of the internal structure and evolution of icy bodies in the Solar System. The award ceremony was hosted today at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2018 in Berlin, Germany. The ceremony included a lecture by Prof Nimmo on giant planets satellite systems.

The annual prize was established in 2010 to honour the memory of the Italian scientist Paolo Farinella (1953-2000) and, each year, it acknowledges an outstanding researcher not older than 47 years (the age of Farinella when he passed away) who has achieved important results in one of Farinella’s fields of work. Each year the Prize focuses on a different research area and in 2018, the eighth edition was devoted to the giant planets satellite systems, their geology, geophysics and orbital evolution.

Prof Nimmo has made significant contributions to understanding the internal structure and evolution of icy bodies of the Solar System and the resulting influence on their surface processes. He has investigated the internal processes that affect plume activity at Enceladus’ southern polar region, suggesting that shear heating is at the origin of the plumes and heat flux on this moon. He has also studied other giant planet satellites, including Europa, Ganymede, Titan, Tethys, Dione, Rhea, Triton, and others.

“Francis Nimmo has shown an excellent ability to combine geologic observations with geophysics and orbital dynamics to clarify the formation and evolution of icy satellites,” said David Lucchesi, Member of the Organising Committee of the Farinella Prize. “His outstanding publication record contains over 180 peer-reviewed papers, have been very well received by the community as shown by the extraordinary number of citations. For these reasons, Prof Nimmo is well deserving the 2018 Farinella Prize.”

Prof Nimmo received a BA degree in geological science and a PhD in volcanism and tectonics on Venus from St John’s College, Cambridge University, UK. He has worked at the California Institute of Technology, University College London and the University of California, Los Angeles. He currently holds the position of Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Before receiving the Prize, Prof Nimmo commented, “I never had the privilege of meeting Paolo Farinella, but I know we shared a deep interest in the origin and dynamics of outer Solar System bodies, like Pluto and Triton. These bodies are interesting and complicated because their orbits affect their interiors, and their interiors affect their orbits. It is precisely this feature that leads my work: I make inferences about the interiors and evolution of Solar System bodies using geological and geophysical techniques, and then try to drawn dynamical conclusions. My approach is quite different from Prof Farinella’s and most of the previous recipients’ of the Prize, so I am even more proud of winning the Prize.”

Further Information
The Paolo Farinella prize (http://www.europlanet-eu.org/paolo-farinella-prize) was established to honour the memory and the outstanding figure of Paolo Farinella (1953-2000), an extraordinary scientist and person, in recognition of significant contributions given in the fields of interest of Farinella, which span from planetary sciences to space geodesy, fundamental physics, science popularization, and security in space, weapons control and disarmament. The winner of the prize is selected each year on the basis of his/her overall research results in a chosen field, among candidates with international and interdisciplinary collaborations, not older than 47 years, the age of Farinella when he passed away, at the date of 25 March 2000. The prize has first been proposed during the “International Workshop on Paolo Farinella the scientist and the man,” held in Pisa in 2010, supported by the University of Pisa, ISTI/CNR and by IAPS-INAF (Rome). The first “Paolo Farinella prize” was awarded in 2011 to William Bottke, for his contribution to the field of “physics and dynamics of small solar system bodies”. In 2012 the prize went to John Chambers, for his contribution to the field of “formation and early evolution of the solar system”. In 2013, to Patrick Michel, for his work in the field of “collisional processes in the solar system”. In 2014, it was awarded to David Vokrouhlicky for his contributions to “our understanding of the dynamics and physics of solar system, including how pressure from solar radiation affects the orbits of both asteroids and artificial satellites”, in 2015 to Nicolas Biver for his studies of “the molecular and isotopic composition of cometary volatiles by means of submillimeter and millimeter ground and space observations,” and in 2016 to Dr. Kleomenis Tsiganis for “his studies of the applications of celestial mechanics to the dynamics of planetary systems, including the development of the Nice model”. Last year, it was presented to Simone Marchi for his contributions to “understanding the complex problems related to the impact history and physical evolution of the inner Solar System, including the Moon”.


Prof Francis Nimmo, winner of the Farinella Prize 2018. Credit: F. Nimmo/Europlanet/A. Postiglione

Prof Francis Nimmo being presented the Farinella Prize 2018 by Maria Cristina De Sanctis. Credit: F. Nimmo/Europlanet/A. Postiglione

Prof Francis Nimmo giving the Farinella Prize Lecture 2018. Credit: F. Nimmo/Europlanet/A. Postiglione

Science Contacts
Prof Francis Nimmo
Dept. Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz
tel. +1 831 459 1783
mobile +1 415 640 1528

Media Contacts
Anita Heward
EPSC 2018 Press Officer
+44 7756034243

Livia Giacomini,
EPSC2018 Press Officer

EPSC 2018

The European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2018 (www.epsc2018.eu) is taking place at the Technische Universität (TU) Berlin, from Sunday 16 to Friday 21 September 2018. EPSC is the major European annual meeting on planetary science. Around 1000 scientists from Europe and around the world will attend EPSC 2018 and will give around 1,250 oral and poster presentations about the latest results on our own Solar System and planets orbiting other stars.

Details of the Congress and a full schedule of EPSC 2018 scientific sessions and events can be found at the official website: http://www.epsc2018.eu/

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