Francisco P.J. Valero of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, has been elected a full member of the prestigious International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), an organization that recognizes the global significance of astronautics and space exploration.
The IAA was founded in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1960 under the leadership of Theodore von Karman, one of the most important figures in the evolution of space exploration and IAA's first president. Since then, IAA has brought together the world's foremost experts in the disciplines of astronautics to recognize the accomplishments of their peers, to explore and discuss cutting-edge issues in space research and technology, and to provide direction and guidance in the non-military uses of space and the ongoing exploration of the solar system.
Valero, director of the Atmospheric Research Laboratory at Scripps Institution, and other new IAA members will be honored in September in Bremen, Germany.
Valero is the leader of a new, innovative space research mission, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite. The NASA-funded mission is designed to test a novel approach to researching the Earth system from deep space, providing synoptic (a whole, simultaneous view of the sunlit hemisphere of Earth) with high-time resolution observations. This pathfinder mission was strongly endorsed by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and has the potential to provide unique information on Earth's climate system that will synergistically complement the data from other Earth science satellites.
IAA membership consists of individuals from 65 countries who have distinguished themselves in one of the fields of astronautics or one of the branches of science of fundamental importance for the exploration of space.
Academy members are leaders in space and aeronautical activities in their own countries. Election to IAA, which operates in close cooperation with the various national academies and engineering academies, recognizes an individual's record of service and achievement.
Valero, a physicist, has been involved in scientific research since the early 1960s. His past work included several areas of basic physics, including atomic and molecular spectroscopy, solar plasma spectroscopy, and planetary atmospheres. Most recently, his efforts have focused on understanding Earth system processes related to climate and climate change. These investigations have involved the interaction of solar and planetary radiation with clouds and aerosols.
Valero's work is reflected in numerous published contributions. He reported some of the first "in situ" observations of the super-greenhouse effect over the central equatorial Pacific. His research into the effects of Arctic and other natural and anthropogenic aerosols as well as his contributions studying the effects of clouds on Earth's energy balance have helped improve understanding of the climate system and refine the theoretical treatment of radiation energy processes in the atmosphere.
He led the design and construction of a new generation of precision radiometers, an instrument that measures radiant energy, which have been flown extensively on both manned and unmanned aircraft. These instruments were developed using new concepts and technology and became the accepted standard for airborne and ground measurements.
He has been the primary proponent, chief scientist, and principal investigator of numerous research missions.