Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


Prof. Kivelson profiled in New York Times

Posted: October 11, 2018

Prof. Kivelson profiled in New York Times Image: Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

The New York Times recently published a profile examining the long, and storied career of Climate & Space research professor Margaret G. Kivelson

From the article: 

"How Do You Find an Alien Ocean? Margaret Kivelson Figured It Out"

"The data was like nothing Margaret Kivelson and her team of physicists ever expected.

"It was December 1996, and the spacecraft Galileo had just flown by Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter. The readings beamed back to Earth suggested a magnetic field emanating from the moon. Europa should not have had a magnetic field, yet there it was — and not even pointed in the right direction.

“'This is unexpected,' she recalled saying as the weird data rolled in. 'And that’s wonderful.'”

"It would be the most significant of a series of surprises from the Jovian moons. For Dr. Kivelson’s team, the mission should not have been this exciting.

"She and her colleagues had devised the magnetometer returning the anomalous data. The instrument’s job was to measure Jupiter’s massive magnetic field and any variations caused by its moons. Those findings were likely to interest space physicists, but few others. Dr. Kivelson’s instrument was never supposed to change the course of space exploration.

"And then it did. Dr. Kivelson and her team would soon prove that they had discovered the first subsurface, saltwater ocean on an alien world.

"Dr. Kivelson, who will turn 90 this month, is professor emerita of space physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. For forty years she has been an active part of almost every major NASA voyage beyond the asteroid belt. She has a wry sense of humor, and her modesty belies the magnitude of her scientific achievements."

In addition to her position in the Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering department at the University of Michigan, Professor Kivelson is a Distinguished Professor, Emerita in the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (Acting Director in 1999-2000) and the Department of Earth and Space Sciences (Chair from 1984-1987) at UCLA. Professor Kivelson joined the Climate & Space department (then called AOSS) in 2009. She spends much time in the air commuting between LAX and DTW.

Read the full article here:

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