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Planetary Science Institute Director Mark V. Sykes Honored

May 10, 2016
Tucson, Ariz. -- Planetary Science Institute CEO and Director Mark V. Sykes has received the 2016 Harold Masursky Award for Meritorious Service to Planetary Science.
The Masursky award is presented by the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences.
“I am deeply honored by this award,” said Sykes. “My advocacy has always been inspired by my planetary science colleagues and the amazing work they do to expand our knowledge of the Solar System. Only by creating stability and predictability in the funding of the research programs and competed missions that support them, will the future of Solar System exploration be bright.” 
The award was established by DPS to recognize and honor individuals who have rendered outstanding service to planetary science and exploration through engineering, managerial, programmatic or public service activities.
Examples of Sykes’ service to planetary sciences include authorship of NASA’s first spacecraft data rights policy; providing groundwork for the first decadal survey for Solar System studies and organizing, editing and publishing the first collection of community white papers on all aspects of planetary science, which is now a standard practice; establishing and for nine years editing the weekly Planetary Exploration Newsletter (PEN), which now has more than 3,000 subscribers; and successfully rallying astronomers around the world against an effort to build a development near Mt. Hopkins in Arizona that would have led to substantial light pollution near major telescope facilities.
Sykes was a founding member of the NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group and served both on the steering committee and as chair. He has been a tireless advocate of planetary research and data analysis programs, fairness and integrity in the peer-review process, and NASA budget transparency.  He has been an advocate in Congress for competed planetary missions and research.
Sykes served the DPS in many capacities, including a term as Chair. He established the Division’s Federal Relations subcommittee, began annual meetings between DPS leadership and NASA officials, and established regular outreach between DPS leadership and early career planetary scientists.  Finally, over the past 12 years he greatly expanded the Tucson-based Planetary Science Institute, where he is the CEO and Director, to be the largest non-government employer of planetary scientists today and an organization nationally recognized for workplace efficiency and flexibility.
Visit for a photo of Sykes.
Sykes will be presented the award at the DPS annual meeting Oct. 16-21 in Pasadena, Calif.
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