Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, 1945–2022

Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd

Credit: Université Paris VI.

With great sadness we are informing the planetary community that Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd passed away on August 1, 2022.

Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd combined in her work ground-based and space-based observations as well as laboratory and numerical simulations to better understand the physical properties of cometary and interplanetary dust. She was appointed as a professor of astronomy and space physics at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI) in 1985 and became professor emeritus in 2013, combining teaching activities with research at the Service d’Aéronomie and, since 2009, the LATMOS institute. In 1977, she applied to the ESA astronaut selection campaign and was the only woman selected as a finalist.

Levasseur-Regourd started her research with studies of the interplanetary medium and derived the first global map in intensity and polarization of the zodiacal light, providing constraints on the local physical properties of the interplanetary dust particles. She participated in the international campaign for studying Halley’s comet both with observations from the ground and as the PI of the OPE experiment onboard the European Giotto spacecraft, which observed the linear polarization in the inner coma of the comet. Results showed the presence of low-density solid particles and light scattering mostly by large particles.

Levasseur-Regourd continued her work on the study of light scattering by irregular particles by developing facilities in the laboratory and in microgravity to simultaneously study the intensity and polarization of aggregated particles. A reduced version of one of these experiments (ICAPS) will soon fly onboard a TEXUS rocket. She also participated in the Rosetta mission, focusing on determining the physical properties of the cometary nucleus and dust particles. She actively participated in the development of the EnVisS camera, a multiwavelength polarimetric imager of the ESA Comet Interceptor spacecraft, expected to be launched in 2029.

Levasseur-Regourd supervised seven Ph.D. students. She was particularly enthusiastic about supporting the recognition and advancement of her female colleagues. In addition, she published five outreach books on astronomy and gave popular television lectures. She served as the President of the French Committee for the organization of the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

Asteroid 6170 is named Levasseur in her honor. In recognition of her scientific work, she was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2013 and was awarded the following prizes: Prix Thorlet de l’Académie des Sciences (1976), Prix Glaxo de Vulgarisation Scientifique (1982), and Prix des Dames de la Société Astronomique de France (1986).

— Text courtesy of colleagues Edith Hadamcik, Jérémie Lasue, and Jean-Baptiste Renard