Know some of the people making BEYOND THE CRADLE possible, this page is, fortunately, under construction… 


btc_stuStuart Atkinson

Stuart Atkinson is a Writer and Astronomy Outreach Educator, author of 10 children’s astronomy and spaceflight books, he has written for many magazines, newspapers and websites, and also runs his town’s astronomical society, the “Eddington Astronomical Society”.

Stuart broadcasts regularly on his local BBC and independant radio stations, having a regular Saturday morning “slot” at BBC Radio Cumbria in which he talks about topical astronomical and spaceflight stories.

He also supply all his local and regional TV stations and news programmes – Border TV’s “Lookaround”, BBC’s “Look North” (Newcastle) and “North West Tonight” (Manchester) – with information about astronomy- and spaceflight-related events and news stories.



Dr. Natalie Batalha

Natalie Batalha is a professor of astronomy and physics at San Jose State University where she conducts research on extrasolar planet detection and stellar astrophysics. She is a co-Investigator for NASA’s Kepler Mission ( Kepler is a NASA Discovery mission whose objective is to identify and characterize habitable, earth-like planets orbiting sun-like stars. As Director of the Systems Teaching Institute at the NASA Research Park (, Dr. Batalha is responsible for creating programs and resources for students pursuing careers in fields relevant to the mission of NASA Ames Research Center. Dr. Batalha received her Bachelor’s degree in Physics and in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.



Jorge Candeias


Jorge is a Portuguese writer, translator and editor for the fantastic and sci-fi genre, area where he is also editor of E-nigma, an e-magazine responsible, throughout the years, for the disclosure of Portuguese and Brazilian fiction and for organizing the Backyard Planet, an antology of short stories with Mars as background. 

Candeias has seen some of his vast bibliography published in Portugal, Argentina, Brazil and the United Kingdom, from these stands out Sally, Colibri edition, and the short story The Place Where Lost Things Go, publiched in the British magazine Nemonymous. 

Beyond his activity as a translator, Jorge created a Bibliowiki which intends to gather works from all the quadrants of the fantastic published in Portugal. He runs also his own blog, A Lâmpada Mágica

Jorge Candeias at Wikipedia (Portuguese) 



Lewis Dartnell

After graduating from The Queen’s College, Oxford, in 2002 with a degree in Biological Sciences Lewis moved to the CoMPLEX (Centre for Mathematics & Physics in the Life Sciences and Experimental Biology) department of University College London, for their four year combined MRes-PhD programme. He finished the MRes in Modelling Biological Complexity in 2003, and was awarded a PhD in the field of astrobiology in May 2008. His research is on the possibility of microbial life surviving in the surface dust of Mars in the face of the constant rain of radiation from space.

Lewis first book, Life in the Universe: A Beginner’s Guide, was published by Oneworld Publications of Oxford in April 2007. He gives regular talks at schools and science festivals, and also acts as an ‘ambassador’ for science through the NOISE (New Outlooks in Science and Engineering) programme.



md_btcMark R. Drinkwater 

Mark R. Drinkwater heads the Mission Science Division in the Earth Observation Programmes Directorate of the European Space Agency (ESA), and is based at ESA’s ESTEC facility in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.  

After graduating in 1987 with a Ph.D. from University of Cambridge he took a position as a Research Associate at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology to help establish polar science in the Earth and Space Science Division. During the period from 1988 – 2000 was involved in preparation of a variety of satellite missions and was NASA Principal Investigator a number of international climate related scientific projects. During this period he also participated in a number of bi-polar research expeditions.  

In 2000 he joined ESA to head the Oceans/Ice unit within the Earth Science Division at ESA-ESTEC and has been mission scientist throughout preparations of the GOCE and CryoSat Earth Explorers and the GMES Sentinel-3 mission. In 2007 he was appointed as Head of the Mission Science Division, with responsibility for scientific support to development of ESA’s Earth Observation missions. 

Mark has contributed to numerous publications including books and scientific journals, and enjoys contributing to popular science articles in press and on the Web.  

Division Website

ESA Website



Professor Debra Fischer

Debra Fischer is a professor of astronomy at San Francisco State University. Fischer has co-authored over 100 papers on dwarf and sub-stellar mass objects in the galactic neighbourhood, including many on extrasolar planets. She is a principle investigator with the N2K Consortium searching for exoplanets. Debra Fischer leads an intense search for earthlike planets around alpha Cen A and B, two of the closest stars to the Sun.  She has also a search for planets around low mass Mdwarfs at the Keck telescope. Professor Fischer is a member of the planet search team led by Geoffrey Marcy looking for extrasolar planets.



2009_02_004-018Malcolm Fridlund 

Malcolm Fridlund is a Swedish astronomer who studied in Stockholm and Groningen (NL). After his Ph D in 1987, and a postdoc in London he came to ESA and ESTEC in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. There he has been a study and project scientist since then. With studies of interferometric systems and planet finding telescopes he eventually was the study scientist for the Darwin study which aims towards the search for and study of Earth-like planets orbiting other stars, especially as what concerns the search for life outside the Solar System.
Nowadays he is project scientist for ESA’s and Europe’s part in the CoRoT project which aims towards the first step in this quest: The finding of ‘Earth-like’, rocky exoplanets, a task which just had had its first success.

He is married and have 3 grown kids. 


David Grinspoon

David H. Grinspoon is an American astrobiologist. He is the current curator of Astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He has published numerous works, such as Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life, which won the 2004 PEN literary award for nonfiction.

Currently he is Interdisciplinary Scientist on the European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft mission to Venus.

In 2006 he was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.



tolga_photoTolga Guver

Tolga Guver is a post-doctoral associate at the University of Arizona, Department of Astronomy. He has finished his PhD in Istanbul University in 2008.

In the present he is working on high-energy astrophysical phenomena related to compact objects, black-holes, white dwarfs and neutron stars, he is especially using X-ray observations of these sources, obtained by Chandra and

XMM-Newton observatories. Guver is mainly concentrated on magnetars, neutron stars with very strong magnetic fields (10^{14-15} Gauss). His focus has been on the development of detailed models of phenomena that take place in the vicinity of magnetars and the application of these models to the spectral and timing properties of anomalous X-ray pulsars and soft- gamma repeaters.

As the most compact known objects without event horizons, neutron stars also offer a unique and extraordinary laboratory to study the equation of state of ultra-dense nuclear matter.  Tolga Guver recently undertaken a project to measure the masses and radii of the neutron stars in X-ray binaries. Using these mass-radius measurements it will be possible to define the equation of state of ultra-dense matter in the cores of neutron stars.


jenkins_jon_3_enh11 Jon Jenkins

Co-Investigator for the Kepler mission, SETI Institute

Jenkins, along with his team, many of whom are amateur astronomers themselves, “are the “dream team” of data analysis. This team is well aware that some of the calibrations and data processing algorithms may have to be altered as the mission progresses.

Jenkins recognizes that he is very dedicated to the Kepler mission. “In almost everything I do, I am very focused – somewhat obsessive. The fun for me in doing something is doing it well – taking my ideas, implementing them and improving upon them.” Jenkins understands this urge to work on something and make it perfect. Jenkins was part of the original proposal team for Kepler, and has been helping to make this mission perfect for the past 14 years.” From NASA’s website.



Dr. Rosaly M. C. Lopes

Dr. Rosaly Lopes is a Principal Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she is also Lead Scientist for Geophysics and Planetary Geosciences. She was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and graduated in Astronomy from the University of London in 1978. She specialized in planetary geology and volcanology and completed her Ph. D. in Planetary Science in 1986. Her major research interests are in planetary and terrestrial geology and volcanology. Dr. Lopes joined JPL as National Research Council Fellow in 1989 and, in 1991, became a member of the Galileo Flight Project, a mission to Jupiter. She was responsible for observations of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io from 1996 to 2001, using Galileo’s Near-infrared mapping spectrometer. During this exciting period of her career, she discovered 71 active volcanoes on Io, for which she was honored in the 2006 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the discoverer of the most active volcanoes anywhere.

Dr. Lopes is now a member of the Cassini Flight Project, as Investigation Scientist on the Cassini Titan Radar Mapper Team. She studies Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, particularly its strange ice volcanoes. In 2006, she was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her contributions to the studies of volcanism on Earth and the planets. She is also a member of the International Astronomical Union, the American Geophysical Society, and Fellow of the Explorers Club and of the Royal Geographical Society. She chairs the Outer Planets Task Group of the International Astronomical Union’s working group for planetary system nomenclature, and is therefore responsible for overseeing the naming of features on the outer planets and satellites.

Dr. Lopes has written many research papers, articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries. In addition to her science work, she is a strong supporter of education, diversity, and outreach, both nationally and internationally.

Our collaborator was distinguished, among other awards, with the 2007 NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and the 2005 Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society.



leo_log1Leo Metcalfe


Following a PhD at University College Dublin building a first generation LN-cooled CCD camera, Leo Metcalfe joined ESA as a Research Fellow at ESTEC in 1986 working on IR He-cryogenic instrumentation. He became ISO Calibration Scientist in 1988, then ISOCAM Intrument Dedicated Team (CIDT) Leader before and during ISO operations, and briefly ISO Project Scientist during ISO Post-Operations before moving to XMM-Newton as Science Support Manager in July 2002.

Metcalfe joined the Herschel team as Science Operations Manager (HSCOM) on September 1, 2007. 


sarahSarah Milkovich

Sarah received her B.S. in planetary science from Caltech in 2000.  Sarah attended Brown University for graduate school in planetary geology, earning a master’s degree in 2002 and a Ph.D in 2005 with studies of mountain glaciers and polar deposits on Mars, and volcanism on Mercury.

Sarah joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2005 as a postdoc, studying the martian south polar layered deposits using images, radar, and topography.  She realized that she wanted to become more involved with spacecraft operations in addition to working with the scientific data, and was hired in 2008 as a science planning systems engineer.  Sarah was a member of the surface operations team for Mars Phoenix during the summer of 2008, working to uplink commands for the Thermal and Electrical Conductivity Probe (TECP) component of the MECA (Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer) instrument.  She is now a science planner for the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn, where she works to maximize science observations while managing spacecraft resources, and assists in planning icy satellite flybys.  She is also in training as the assistant investigation scientist for Cassini’s UV Imaging Spectrograph instrument. 

Sarah continues to study the polar deposits of Mars.  When not at work, Sarah plays trombone in the Caltech-Occidental Concert Band, with whom she performed at Carnegie Hall the day before Mars Phoenix landed. 

Sarah at JPL website



NickNicholas Previsich

A retired US Air Force avionics technician, Nick Previsich has had a lifelong fascination with spaceflight and the exploration of the Solar System. His earliest memories include waking up specifically to watch Gemini launches, and struggling to stay awake at the age of six to watch Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon.

The tangible reality of the relationship between the larger Universe and the Earth was driven home to him on Aug 10, 1972, when he witnessed–and heard– the famous daylight fireball over western Montana. Another memorable experience occurred during the total solar eclipse of Feb 26, 1979, when by good fortune he encountered a group of JPL scientists who told him that Jupiter’s moon Io was looking “interesting” in far encounter images from Voyager 1; a week later, the world found out just how interesting Io really was!

Due to these and many other experiences, he is convinced of the overwhelming importance of spaceflight for both the present and future of humanity. Toward that end, he was honored when Rui Borges asked him to contribute his perspective to Beyond The Cradle in order to promote interest in what is arguably Man’s greatest and most crucial endeavor.

A frequent poster on the respected forum, Previsich lives in Los Angeles and works in the aerospace industry.


ppsDr. Paul Schenk, currently a staff (not staph) scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston Texas, is also a deep sea diver, scuba diver, traveler, mapper, and occasional dabbler in amateur stained glass.  Rejected from art school, he was lucky to discover the fascinating world of geology just as the Voyager spacecraft to the outer planets were on their way to the Outer Solar System.  He applied for and was awarded a NASA summer internship at JPL to witness first-hand the Voyager 2 encounter with Jupiter in 1979, including the first high-resolution images of Europa.  He did not quite suspect that decades later he would be making high resolution topographic maps and movies of the surface of this strange water world.  His parallel interest in antique deep sea diving with helmet and lead-soled boots does not make him an expert in extreme environment survival but he likes to think it qualifies him for future Europa exploration, despite the need for a 15 kilometer long airhose to get him beneath the outer ice layer.

Paul has been mapping the icy satellites of the outer planets since graduate school days at Washington University in Saint Louis and is currently assisting the New Horizons team plan Pluto encounter observations for July 2015.  He specializes in impact craters and their effects on icy satellites, and in 3-D imaging of their surfaces, which he uses to measure topography and create really amazing stereo views.  Over the years he has discovered plate tectonics on Europa, the highest mountains on Io (17 kilometers!), the compressional origin of Io’s mountains, diapirism on Triton, the impact of tidally disrupted comets onto the Galilean satellites, the thickness of Europa’s ice shell (roughly 15 to 20 kilometers), and polar wander of Europa’s ice shell, among other things.  Today he is working frantically to finish his new book, an Atlas of the Galilean Satellites highlighting the Voyager and Galileo missions to Jupiter, due out this fall.  He has received no major awards, for which he is grateful for not having to have given a long speech. 

professional website

facebook website


ps_01Phil Stooke is a planetary cartographer at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. He works in the Department of Geography and is also affiliated with the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration. His Ph. D. research at the University of Victoria involved mapping asteroids, work which included designing map projections and shape modelling methods for irregularly shaped small bodies. More recently he has worked on locating spacecraft on the Moon and Mars, and has compiled a historical atlas, The International Atlas of Lunar Exploration. This book uses maps and images to provide a uniquely detailed history of the exploration of the Moon.
He is now working on a similar atlas of Mars exploration.



Dr. Alexander Zaitsev is a Chief Scientist of the Radio Engineering and Electronics Institute, Russian Academy of Science. His career has been marked by three major areas of interest: First, radar devices used in the study of Venus, Mars, and Mercury, particularly direct digital synthesizers of coherent radar signals (the subject of his M.S. thesis, 1981). Second, near-Earth asteroid radar research (the subject of his Ph.D.dissertation, 1997). Dr. Professor Zaitsev has been able to successfully conduct international radar astronomy research projects with Europe, the United States and Japan. In 1992, he led a team of radar astronomers who successfully tracked the asteroid 4179 Toutatis to a distance of 3.6 million kilometers from Earth. This was the first non-U.S. asteroid radar experiment. Third – interstellar radio messaging (at present). He supervised the transmission of the 1999 and 2003 Cosmic Calls from Ukraine. In addition, under his leadership, a youth group in Moscow composed and broadcast a very moving Teen Age Message to ETI, including a beautiful “Theremin Concert for Aliens.” A pioneer in active SETI, he coined the acronym METI (Messaging to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), and dialogs extensively with both proponents and critics of this admittedly controversial activity. In 1985, Zaitsev received the Soviet Governmental Prize in Science. In 1980 he received the Koroliov Gold Medal of the Soviet Space Federation. In 1994 he received the Tsiolkovski Gold Medal of the Russian Space Federation. In 1995 the International Astronomical Union named the asteroid number 6075 as “Zajtsev.”


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