Mark Sykes

CEO and Director

Professional History

Sykes began his professional life at the University of Oregon's Pine Mountain Observatory making photometric and polarometric observations of eclipsing binaries, in particular the first black hole system Cygnux X-1. He then went to the Oregon Graduate Center to study Applied Physics. There, he worked on laser physics and developed analog convolution methods in applied optics for the Department of Defense. He later received his PhD in Planetary Science at the University of Arizona where he was given the Gerard P. Kuiper Memorial Award for his research on comets and the interplanetary dust complex. In 1987, Sykes joined the research faculty of Steward Observatory where he worked on various planetary projects for the next seventeen years. During this time he served on the Astronomy and Astrophysics Working Group of the Space Exploration Initiative to develop a plan for the evolution of astronomy from the surface of the Moon as human activity expanded, he chaired a NASA panel to write the first planetary spacecraft data rights policy for the agency, and he served in various leadership roles for the Division for Planetary Science of the American Astronomical Society. For the DPS, he was elected to the Nominating Committee, DPS Committee, and Chair. He later created and led their Federal Relations Subcommittee and served on the AAS Committee on Astronomy and Public Policy. In 1997, Sykes received his JD from the University of Arizona College of Law and continues to be a member of the Arizona Bar. In 2004, Dr. Sykes became CEO and Director of the non-profit Planetary Science Institute. During this time he has chaired the NASA Planetary Data System Working Group and the NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group and was a member of the NASA Planetary Science Subcommittee. He also served on the NRC panel on The Role and Scope of Mission-Enabling Activities in NASA's Space and Earth Science Missions. Sykes has served on and chaired numerous NASA proposal review and mission senior review panels. He is the founding editor of the Planetary Exploration Newsletter.

Pine Mountain Observatory 15" (1975)