Walter F. Huebner, 1928–2021

Walter Huebner

Walter Huebner. Credit: Division for Planetary Sciences.

Walter F. Huebner, world-renowned astrophysicist and planetary scientist specializing in comets, passed away peacefully at his home in Norman, Oklahoma, on June 1, 2021.

Huebner received his Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University. After graduating, he worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1957 to 1987 in various capacities, from staff scientist to group leader. In 1987, he moved to San Antonio, Texas, and worked at the Southwest Research Institute as an institute scientist until 2018.

Huebner held many professional leadership and service positions, such as President of IAU Commission 15 (Small Bodies of the Solar System), President of the Permanent Monitoring Panel for Cosmic Objects (at international seminars on Nuclear War and Planetary Emergencies), program manager at NASA Headquarters, and visiting scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Sao Paulo, and the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

Huebner was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and was a participant in Operation Dominic at Christmas Island. He was known not only for his invaluable scientific work and insights, but also for his kind, gentle, and generous nature. He had a wonderful sense of humor, a lifelong passion for travel, and was loved by all who knew him.

— Portions of text courtesy of D. Boice/Division of Planetary Sciences