Jump to content

David Grinspoon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
David H. Grinspoon
Grinspoon in June 2014
Senior Scientist for Astrobiology Strategy
In office
Planetary Science Institute
Senior Scientist
In office
John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress
Baruch S. Blumberg/NASA Chair in Astrobiology
In office
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded bySteven J. Dick
European Space Agency's Venus Express
Interdisciplinary Scientist
In office
Denver Museum of Nature & Science Department of Space Sciences
Curator of Astrobiology
In office
Personal details
Born1959 (age 64–65)
Alma materBrown University (B.A. and B.S.)
University of Arizona (Ph.D.)
AwardsAsteroid Grinspoon
Carl Sagan Medal
PEN Center USA Literary Award for Research Nonfiction.
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

David H. Grinspoon (born 1959) is an American astrobiologist. He is the Senior Scientist for Astrobiology Strategy at NASA[1] and was the former inaugural Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology for 2012–2013.[2][3][4][5][6]

His research focuses on comparative planetology, with a focus on climate evolution on Earth-like planets and implications for habitability. He has also studied, written and lectured on the human influence on Earth, as seen in cosmic perspective.

He has published four books, Venus Revealed, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book prize, Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life, which won the 2004 PEN literary award for nonfiction,[7] Earth in Human Hands, which was named one of NPR's Science Friday "Best Science Books of 2016" and Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto, co-authored with Alan Stern. He is adjunct professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Science at the University of Colorado,[8] a former Fellow of the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth College[9] and a former Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment at Wesleyan University.[10]

Early life[edit]

Grinspoon was born in 1959. His father was Harvard psychiatrist and author Lester Grinspoon.[11] He holds degrees in Philosophy of Science and Planetary Science from Brown University and a PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona.[5] He is the nephew of real estate developer and philanthropist Harold Grinspoon.


Grinspoon has served as an advisor to NASA on space exploration strategy,[12] and as an Interdisciplinary Scientist on the European Space Agency's Venus Express spacecraft mission to Venus.[13] He was a science team member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute Titan Team,[14] and served as science Co-Investigator and team lead for Education and Public Outreach for the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) on the Mars Science Laboratory.[5][15][16] Currently he serves on the Science Team for NASA's DAVINCI spacecraft mission which will launch to Venus in the 2030 timeframe.

His popular writing has appeared in numerous periodicals, such as Slate, Scientific American, Natural History, The Sciences, Seed, Astronomy, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, LA Times, and The New York Times.[16] Grinspoon's technical papers have been published in Nature, Science, and numerous other journals.[16][failed verification] He has been featured on many television programs including PBS's Life Beyond Earth, BBC's The Planets, and History Channel's The Universe, as well as on NPR's Science Fridays, Wisconsin Public Radio, and BBC World Service shows. He has given invited talks at international conferences throughout the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Grinspoon also writes the bi-monthly "Cosmic Relief" column for Sky & Telescope magazine, where he is also a contributing editor.[17][18] In addition, he has appeared several times as a guest, and also as guest host, of Neil deGrasse Tyson's popular podcast and live shows StarTalk.[19]

In 2013, he was invited to give the Carl Sagan Lecture at the Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.[citation needed]

Grinspoon currently serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.


Grinspoon has won many awards including the 2006 Carl Sagan Medal by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society for excellence in public communication of planetary science; Alpha Geek 2007 by WIRED Magazine; the 2004 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Research Nonfiction for Lonely Planets; 1997 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist for Venus Revealed; and the 1989 Gerard P. Kuiper Memorial Award at the University of Arizona.[1] In 2018 he was awarded the Eugene Shoemaker Award by the Beyond Center at Arizona State University. In 2022 he was elected as a Lifetime Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Asteroid 22410 Grinspoon, a main-belt asteroid, is named after him.

Personal life[edit]

Grinspoon is a musician who has played guitar and composed for many bands. Currently, he is performing with the House Band of the Universe. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife.[citation needed]

Notable works[edit]

  • Venus Revealed: A New Look Below the Clouds of Our Mysterious Twin Planet (1998)
  • Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life (2004)
  • Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future (2016)
  • Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto (2018)


  1. ^ a b "A NASA Astrobiology Community Update from the Directors of the Divisions of Astrophysics and Planetary Science".
  2. ^ "David Grinspoon Named to Astrobiology Chair". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  3. ^ Urschel, Donna. "David Grinspoon Named the First Chair in Astrobiology At John W. Kluge Center". News from the Library of Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  4. ^ "David Grinspoon Named the First Chair in Astrobiology At John W. Kluge Center". News from the Library of Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "David Grinspoon, PhD" (PDF). Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-01-23. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  6. ^ "Denver Museum curator chosen as NASA-Library of Congress astrobiology chair". Denver Post. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
  7. ^ "About David Grinspoon" (Biography). CafeSci. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
  8. ^ "Astrophysical and Planetary Science Directory". Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Science. University of Colorado.
  9. ^ "Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth".
  10. ^ "2020-21: Habitability -- Cosmological, Planetary & Ethical Perspectives".
  11. ^ Retherford, Bill (Jul 17, 2019). "Space Scientists Share Childhood Memories Of Moon Landing". Forbes.com. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  12. ^ "Solar System Exploration - People". NASA - Solar System Exploration. NASA. Archived from the original on 30 August 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Venus Express: Searching for Life - On Earth". European Space Agency - Our Activities. ESA. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  14. ^ "Members". NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Titan. NASA. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  15. ^ "SwRI Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) Homepage". SwRI Boulder. Southwest Research Institute. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  16. ^ a b c "Even more David". funkyscience.net. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
  17. ^ "Sky & Telescope: Cosmic Relief Articles". funkyscience.net. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
  18. ^ "Meet the Staff of Sky & Telescope Magazine". Sky & Telescope. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
  19. ^ "Cosmic Queries: Human Impact on Earth with Dr. FunkySpoon". StarTalk Radio Show by Neil deGrasse Tyson. 2014-06-22. Retrieved 2016-05-06.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]