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Interview with Arden Albee

Albee, Arden (2020) Interview with Arden Albee. [Oral History]

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An interview series in three sessions, in August–September 2017, with Arden Albee, professor of geology and planetary science, emeritus, and a key figure in lunar and Martian exploration throughout the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Raised in Michigan, where his early interest in rocks and natural history was nurtured by road trips through the American west, he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in geology at Harvard and worked for the US Geological Survey before joining the Caltech faculty in 1959. At Caltech he pioneered the use of the electron microprobe in petrological studies with colleagues A. Chodos and E. A. Bence, pursued fieldwork in numerous locales, including Greenland, where he and Caltech colleague G. Wasserburg took part in the landmark Oldstone Project to collect and analyze the world’s most ancient rocks, and collaborated in characterizing and dating the moon rocks returned by the Apollo missions. From 1978 to 1984, he was JPL chief scientist during a transformative period in the lab’s history under successive directors B. Murray and L. Allen. He chaired numerous NASA planetary exploration committees and served as project scientist for the Mars Observer mission and as mission scientist for Mars Global Surveyor. His lengthy tenure, not without controversy, as Caltech’s dean of graduate studies from 1984 to 2000 and his two decades chairing the house committee of the Caltech faculty club, the Athenaeum, are also recounted in this oral history.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Geology and planetary science
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Albee_A
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Albee, Arden. Interview by Heidi Aspaturian. Pasadena, California, August 16, 31, and September 14, 2017. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:Subjects > Geology
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ID Code:298
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:03 May 2021 21:36
Last Modified:14 May 2021 20:18

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