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Biography of Dr. Carl Sagan

As a child of seven, Carl Sagan posed the question: "What are the stars?" To his good fortune and ours, his parents took him straight to the nearest library. That was the first step in a life long journey that opened the way for him and countless others to a deeper understanding of the universe.

Carl Sagan was Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the American space program since its inception. He briefed the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon and was an experimenter on the Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo expeditions to the planets. He helped solve the mysteries of the high temperatures of Venus (caused by a massive greenhouse effect), the seasonal changes on Mars (caused by windblown dust), and the reddish haze of Titan (caused by complex organic molecules).

A Pulitzer Prize winner, Dr. Sagan was the author of many best sellers, including Cosmos, which became the best-selling science book ever published in the English language. Five hundred million people in 60 countries have seen the accompanying Emmy and Peabody award-winning television series. He received 22 honorary degrees from American colleges and universities for his contributions to science, literature, education, and the preservation of the environment, as well as awards for his work on the consequences of nuclear war and reversing the nuclear arms race.

He received numerous awards for his scientific achievements, such as the Public Welfare Medal, the highest award of the National Academy of Sciences. In a posthumous award to Dr. Sagan, the National Science Foundation declared that "his research transformed planetary science... his gifts to mankind were infinite."