Merton Davies

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Merton E. Davies (September 13, 1917 – April 17, 2001) graduated from Stanford University in 1938 and worked for the Douglas Aircraft corporation in the 1940s. He became a pioneer of spy satellite technology (including CORONA) as a member of RAND Corporation[1] after it split off from Douglas in 1948. Although the majority of his work in this regard remains classified, on August 18, 2000 he was acknowledged as one of the founders of national reconnaissance by the National Reconnaissance Office for inventing the Spin-Pan (torque compensating) camera used in the CORONA program satellites and participation on many national reconnaissance committees during the 1950s and early 1960s.

In the late 1960s he turned his expertise in space and satellites to planetary studies and became involved in the Mariner program, working on interpreting the images of Mars sent back by Mariner probes. He was responsible for creating the geodetic control net for mapping Mars surface, and eventually of many other solar system bodies. At the time of his death, he was credited with "single-handedly observing more of the solar system than any other human," by Torrence Johnson, project scientist of Project Galileo.

He married Louise Darling in 1946.

The Martian crater Davies is named after him.


  • Morton, Oliver (2002). "Mert Davies' Net". Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination, and the Birth of a World. New York: Picador USA. pp. 22–29. ISBN 0-312-24551-3. 

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