Uwe Keller


Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research,
Co-Investigator, Atmospheres


Uwe Keller

H. Uwe Keller (HUK) studied physics and astronomy at the universities of Hamburg and Munich. He was awarded a fellowship and obtained his PhD at the Max-Planck-Institute for Physics in Munich 1971. Based on his model of the cometary Lyman, a radiation, he was invited to the Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics (LASP) at Boulder, Colorado to work on the first UV observations of comets and to participate as invited expert in the Skylab Comet Kohoutek campaign. In 1975 he returned to Munich as staff member and resumed modelling of stellar atmospheres. In 1976 he followed a call to the Max-Planck-Institute for Aeronomy (now Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research MPS) to build up a cometary research group. He was one of the initiators of the ESA Giotto Mission to comet Halley and the principal investigator (PI) of the Halley Multicolour Camera imager. He acquired his habilitation (right to teach) at the university of Göttingen in 1977.

His science focus broadened and he became interested in the Saturnian system. He is involved in the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (UVIS) of the NASA Cassini orbiter for which he supplied the Hydrogen and Deuterium Cells (HDAC) and the CCD and electronics for the Descent Imager and Spectral Radiometer (DISR) of the ESA Huygens probe to land on Titan in January 2005.

HUK participated in the laboratory comet simulation experiment KOSI as co-I and initiated the micro gravity experiment CODAG for the NASA shuttle as PI and followed its successful simulation of dust coagulation under conditions found during the early stages of the planetary system as co-I.

The Planetary Science Group became involved in Mars when the CCD and electronics for the Imager for Mars Pathfinder were provided. Then similar involvements in Mars Polar Lander and Mars Surveyor Lander 2001 followed. The involvement in Martian research has been further strengthened by his co-investigator ships of the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) and the visible and near infrared spectrometer OMEGA of the ESA Mars Express Mission. HUK initiated the provision of the multicolour imager Venus Monitoring Camera (VMC, co-I) for the ESA Venus Express Mission to be launched in 2005.

The interest of the Planetary Research Group expanded from atmospheres and atmosphere-surface interactions to planetary surfaces and interiors. Consequently the NIR Smart-1 Infrared Spectrometer (SIR) was developed by HUK (PI) and is flying on the ESA Smart-1 mission around the Moon. A successor spectrometer (Co-I) was just selected for the Indian Moon mission Chandrayaan to be launched in 2007.

Research and exploration of the small bodies of the solar system returned to the center of interest with the involvement in the ESA Rosetta mission that will rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. HUK is PI of the scientific imaging system Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging (OSIRIS). After launch of Rosetta HUK became involved in the NASA Discovery Mission DAWN to rendezvous with the big asteroids Vesta and Ceres. He is responsible (PI) for the Framing Camera (FC) that will determine the physical properties of these asteroids.

HUK received the Stern-Gerlach Prize of the German Physical Society in 1990 and the Golden Lion Prize of German TV in 1977.

HUK is co-investigator of Phoenix and responsible for the Robotic Arm Camera (RAC), the CCD for the microscope of MECA, and required electronics.

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