2005 ASP Annual Award Recipients
and Eric Muhlmann Award
Princeton University, USA
Observational astronomy is being revolutionized by massive surveys made by both space- and ground-based instruments. As data pour in from these surveys, the notion of a virtual observatory—composed of these federated data sets—is becoming a reality, and the need for sophisticated software to gather, calibrate, and disseminate those data is critical.
It is fitting, therefore, that the Maria and Eric Muhlmann Award for innovative advances in astronomical instrumentation or software be awarded this year to Robert Lupton of Princeton University. Lupton, a leader in the construction of software to analyze a huge and exceptionally rich survey, is a man for whom, according to one colleague, “writing code is a form of artistic expression.” Beginning in 1990 he developed the software to reduce the 20 gigabytes of photometric data coming from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey per hour—data that need to be calibrated and then sorted into a catalog of magnitudes, colors, and other parameters.
date, the SDSS Catalog amounts to a data volume approaching that
of the Library of Congress! SDSS has proven to be a treasure trove
for observational astronomers looking for rare objects like super-high-redshift
quasars or low-temperature dwarf stars. Lupton himself has written
papers on subjects ranging from RR Lyrae stars, low temperature
dwarfs, asteroids, and high redshift quasars to large-scale galaxy-galaxy
correlations in the SDSS data. But this year’s Muhlmann Award
is given to him in recognition of his crucial role in developing
software that benefits the entire astronomical community.