Lunar and Planetary Institute

Remembering Dr. Paul D. Spudis
Tributes and Condolences


PNG, JPG, or GIF. 2MB max

Very recently, I learnt of Paul Spudis’ passing. I was was surprised and saddened. He was a member of my Masters dissertation Committee and PhD Dissertation Committee. Both were Lunar Oriented, naturally . Paul provided great encouragement and valuable guidance during my association with him; for which I am very grateful. May he Rest in Peace My sincerest condolences to the Spudis family. Noel W Jackson
Noel Jackson, a past student of Paul Spudis

I will fondly remember Paul. I wrote my first paper with him and valued his expertise and insight, but mostly his guidance. He was calm and patient with me, as a fresh PhD, and I learned a lot from interacting with him.
Nicolle Zellner, Albion College

Paul and I met in 1991 when he was a member of NASA's Lunar Exploration Science Working Group (LExSWG), which was formed after the Apollo lunar missions and stayed active for the next couple of decades. (See I was lead Mission Engineer at JPL on NASA's then-leading lunar 'pre-project', Lunar Observer (LO) -- actually two spacecraft as proposed to NASA for funding. Paul played a major role in writing LExSWG's final document, "A Planetary Science Strategy for the Moon," (, and it was during the interactions between the LO project and LExSWG that I became acquainted with Paul's well-noted persona of being a champion for the value of the Moon as a destination, as a straight-talking expert on all things lunar (including policy) and as someone with a warm heart and clever wit. (My wife had also reported to Paul years before as an intern at USGS/Flagstaff and was similarly inspired.) Though LO was never funded as proposed, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter eventually was, and LRO certainly carried much heritage from the previous LO/LExSWG work, and of course Paul played a significant role on LRO as well. Over the years Paul and I bumped into each other at various space conferences and events, and it was always a pleasure seeing him and catching up on news. Whenever I look at the Moon or read about the latest lunar science or mission plans, Paul's memory rises to the top of my consciousness. He will be missed. Let's do this Return to the Moon thing right, for Paul -- !
Rex Ridenoure, Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation

Graham, Paul, and I in 1996 (I think) at Molly's Pub, at a farewell gathering before I headed off to graduate school at Michigan State University.

After my LPI internship, Paul Spudis and Graham Ryder hired me as a visiting graduate fellow. At my first LPSC, Paul made a point of introducing me to his colleagues so that I would have contacts when it came time to apply to graduate programs. I got to work on a variety of projects for Paul and learned a great deal during those years. He was always generous with his knowledge and supportive of my graduate school endeavors. I will miss Paul dearly and extend my deepest sympathies to Anne and his family and his LPI colleagues.
Karen Stockstill-Cahill, Planetary Science Institute

There is now another basin-sized hole in the lunar community. Like the multi-ringed basins that Paul studied throughout his career, his work has left rippled and lasting effects through the lunar science and exploration communities. I am grateful to Paul for bringing lunar science into my career path: first as an LPI intern and then as his graduate student. I enjoyed partaking with Paul, and the great and now late Dr. Hawke, discussions on topics of lunar science, space history, the civil war, and their grad life. Political discussions were particularly interesting as I was a "Kennedy Democrat" and he a blue bloodied republican. If the great Carnac were to lift an envelope to his turban and foresee the words: "Great scientist, orator, mentor, family man, and friend", he would then open the envelope to read the answer "Paul Spudis!". For multiple reasons Paul, you will be missed. God Speed.
Jeffrey Gillis-Davis, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Paul became a good friend in the mid-1980s. I managed the RPIF for the USGS in Flagstaff and he was a frequent visitor while he was at ASU and as a member of the USGS. I especially appreciated Paul’s great intelligence and wonderful wit. I will miss him
Jody Swann, Friend

Fond Memories of Paul Spudis By way of introduction, we worked with Paul Spudis on two lunar radar projects. The first one was a Discovery proposal (Advanced Lunar Topography and Imaging Radar, ALTAIR) in the early 2000’s to fly an imaging radar in lunar orbit to capitalize on the success of the Shuttle Imaging Radar missions. The second one was collaborating with Paul on the Mini-RF radar instruments flown on Indian Chandrayaan-1 and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions. Paul was a true colleague, in every sense of the word, listening to everybody on his teams, and providing an encyclopedia knowledge about the Moon. It was always a pleasure to work with him. Paul’s passing is the great loss to us, all who had the pleasure to work with him, and to the entire NASA planetary community. We admire him and applaud him for bringing the Moon back to a focus of NASA’s attention. He will be missed by all of us. Tommy Thompson and Eugene Ustinov
Tommy Thompson, Caltech/JPL

Dr. Spudis giving a public presentation on "The Value of the Moon" for the 2016 Cosmic Exploration Speaker Series at LPI.

Dr. Paul Spudis was an energetic and fascinating speaker. He frequently gave presentations to our audiences, including many to teachers over the years; each talk was excellent. I enjoyed working with him, and will miss him!
Christine Shupla, LPI

I am deeply saddened to learn of Paul Spudis’s passing. I had the pleasure of serving with Paul on a presidential commission where his expertise on Space and the Moon were greatly valued. Paul had a great sense of why our exploration of space is humankind’s most important frontier. His contributions to our future will live on for centuries to come as we open that frontier.
Robert Walker, Former Member of Congress

We are indeed shocked by this terrible news. At ISRO, we recall the energy and enthusiasm he brought into numerous discussions during our collaborative program of MiniSAR on our maiden Lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1. We are most appreciative of the excellent results from his MiniSAR experiment on subsurface water/ice deposits. As a senior scientist on the NASA Chandrayaan-1 team, he also helped out substantially in easing many formalities on the ISRO-NASA collaboration which has since expanded. We will truly miss his straight talk, clear-headed approach during discussions and his enormous interest and expertise on the subject of lunar exploration. It is strangely coincidental that very recently I had a chance to listen to his YouTube lecture at Ames on his book "The value of Moon" which has triggered interesting discussions among some of us at ISRO. We will remember him as we close on our second mission to his favourite place in the Universe.
Parameswaran Sreekumar, Indian Space Research Organisation

No one was more dauntless or passionate in their advocacy of lunar exploration as Paul Spudis. Paul articulated a clear, attainable vision regarding the immense value of going to the Moon, establishing a permanent human presence on the surface, and using the resources now known to be abundant on the surface to provide the capabilities required to let us go anywhere, and do anything, we want to do in the Solar System. We have lost an accomplished scientist, a visionary leader, and a friend. While many tributes are being planned, I think everyone will agree that ultimately the best possible tribute to his memory will be to establish a thriving American presence on the lunar surface. It is now up to the rest of us to finish the job he started.
Samuel Lawrence, NASA JSC

Paul was a great guy. I enjoyed his sense of humor. We had many interesting discussions about a range of topics over the years. He was excellent at mentoring and I got a lot of useful advice from him. He's also the only person I know who appeared on Jeopardy. I will miss him. I sure hope his vision for returning the moon with humans and establishing a permanent lunar base gets realized some day.
Robbie Herrick, University of Alaska Fairbanks

I can think of no better and more passionate advocate for the exploration of the Moon than Paul. His book, Once and Future Moon, will always remain as one of my favorite planetary science books (that is not just for planetary scientists!). His presence in the lunar and planetary science community will be sorely missed.
Meenakshi Wadhwa, Arizona State University

I remember Paul very well when he visited UCL - he was always generous with his time and his advice, always willing to help, and always had a big smile on his face. I consider myself very lucky to have had the chance to work with him. He will be sorely missed, and my thoughts are with his family and friends.
Sarah (Dunkin) Beardsley , RAL Space, STFC, UK

I’ve known Paul since he was an exuberant and passionate undergraduate at ASU. What struck me then (and never changed) was his conviction that humans must return to the Moon. He always had a story about some hidden fact about Apollo or the next project. I’m so sad that he won’t be at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference next year.
Peter Schultz, Brown University

Paul came to Notre Dame to give a seminar talk about the Moon. I had heard him speak before and knew he was a very good geologist who would give an interesting talk. My colleagues and I spread the word to make sure to come to Pauls seminar as it would be a good one. The room was fairly full of students (undergraduate and graduate) from different departments that may find the Moon applicable to their field(engineering, physics, math). To my surprise Paul didn't give a geology talk, he opened with "I'm going to explain to you why you as ordinary Americans should care about the Moon". What followed was one of the best presentations I've seen that covered the science, the politics, the economics, the engineering, the history and the future of humans on the Moon. When Paul was done he fielded questions from a clearly energized group. I didn't have as much one-on-one time with Paul as others, but I deeply respect his geologic knowledge and his ability to convey his message to a diverse crowd. As a younger scientist in the field of lunar science, I can only strive to one day be as good as Paul was at this. My condolences to his family.
David Burney, University of Notre Dame

Paul was an incredible force for sustainable lunar exploration in the name of science, exploration, technologic advancement, and national pride. We all leaned so much from him and now have to carry this knowledge forward for the good of the nation and the world. Ad luna Paul.
Barbara Cohen, NASA GSFC

I first got to know Dr. Spudis because he was a good friend of my graduate advisor at the University of Hawaii, B. Ray Hawke. I remember one year at the LPSC I gave what was maybe my second or third talk at a big conference. After I was finished, I walked toward the back of Gilruth Gym where B. Ray and Paul were standing. Paul said "Hmmm . . . you're actually getting pretty good a this sh*t." Those words from someone of his stature were a real boost to the confidence of a student. During the Clementine mission in 1994, Paul was sharing an apartment with Paul Lucey near the mission operations center ("the Batcave") in Alexandria, Va. I stayed there for three weeks during the orbital phase of the mission. I took along my copy of Spudis' The Geology of Multi-Ring Impact Basins and asked him to sign it. His inscription: "To Dave: Hoping that Clementine data will re-write a large fraction of this book! Best Regards, Paul".
David Blewett, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab

I had the pleasure of being an LPI summer intern more than 20 years working with Paul. His passion for lunar science was infectious. Working with Paul was also an example of how science can transcend politics. Although he was fairly conservative in his political views, he clearly maintained excellent working scientific relationships with folks across the political spectrum.
Bradley Thomson, University of Tennessee

Paul in 2001 changed my life. John Guest, my former professor at UCL, and another sadly missed luminary in our field, had asked me to meet this important American professor for a possible PhD. He was looking for people to work on Clementine multispectral data. I was 38 at that time with two other professions on the go, I did not hold my breath. A firm handshake, a big guy, especially in comparison to my modestly sized frame, with a booming and assertive ‘American voice’. Paul goes straight to the point: “I send you a computer from the US, loaded with calibrated images, you look at the nearside and we write a paper.” Stop. Could I refuse? I did not, and my life changed completely from that day on. My biggest regret is that, good to his word of earlier years, he had offered me the opportunity of working together in the US, which I, foolishly, turn down for personal reasons. What an adventure that might have been! They say that the value of a life is measured by the difference we make on Earth. No doubts here. Thank you Paul. Roberto
Roberto Bugiolacchi, University College London

For years I played early morning golf with Paul, Don Morrison and Arch Reid almost every week. In addition to being a consummate lunar scientist Paul loved golf and was probably the only one among us to take the game completely seriously, keeping score and refusing to take mulligans. He was completely honest in all endeavors.
Michael Zolensky, NASA JSC

It goes without saying that Paul was among the strongest advocates for a human return to the Moon, and the lunar science community will miss him terribly. As a close friend of the late John Guest, Paul was a frequent visitor to the UK and the NASA RPIF at UCL, and he had a significant influence on me personally, especially through his book The Once and Future Moon. I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to Paul's friends, family, and colleagues. As others have noted, the best way to honour his memory will be to get humanity back to the Moon.
Ian Crawford, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK

My condolences on Paul's passing. He was a fellow Director of one of NASA's Regional Planetary Image Facilities, but I knew him best as a fellow former graduate student of our mentor, Ron Greeley. I remember many great conversations with Paul on lunar and planetary exploration, and even field work together in Hawaii in the early 1990s. His paper with Greeley, "Volcanism on Mars", was one of the first scientific papers I read in graduate school. I learned a lot from his geologic map of Io. I considered him a great colleague and I will miss his wisdom and leadership in our community.
David Williams, Arizona State University

Paul and I got to know each other when we were serving on LAPST, the lunar sample allocation committee, where I learned the extent of his lunar knowledge, as well as his love of golf, and I ended up thinking of him as a friend. My favorite story, though, comes from years later. At a shuttle launch, I bumped into Paul while I was with my pre-teen son. Paul and I got to discussing something (no doubt involving lunar science and/or human exploration), and after we parted, my son asked "Who was that? I've never seen you get so angry and argue with someone like that." I was taken aback, because I didn't think we'd been arguing, and I certainly wasn't angry. But Paul had strong opinions, and he encouraged strong opinions, so having different viewpoints could turn into a fascinating, animated, and thought-provoking discussion, without affecting a friendship. I'll really miss him.
Timothy Swindle, University of Arizona

Paul was an inspiration and guide for my entire efforts in the space resources field. His steadfast vision, leadership and no nonsense ability to cut through to key issues has been the example to which I aspire. You'll be sorely missed my friend, but not forgotton for a single moment.
Jim Keravala, OffWorld

Way back when a young student among others took a seminar on lunar geologyWe were doing the analysis of Apollo samples then Paul decided to make a geologic map of part of the moon for his contribution. Later when he came to ASU to give a talk I gave him his map project back as part of his introduction He just laughed
Carleton Moore, Arizona state university


Connect With Us!
LPI Email Newsletters
Back to top