Kuiper, Gerard Peter

▪ American astronomer
original name  Gerrit Pieter Kuiper  
born Dec. 7, 1905, Harenkarspel, Neth.
died Dec. 23, 1973, Mexico City, Mexico

      Dutch-American astronomer known especially for his discoveries and theories concerning the solar system.

      Kuiper graduated from the University of Leiden in 1927 and received his Ph.D. from that school in 1933. That same year he moved to the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen (1937). He joined the staff of Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago in 1936, twice serving as director (1947–49 and 1957–60) of both Yerkes and McDonald observatories. Kuiper founded the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona in 1960 and served as its director until his death.

      After conducting research in stellar astronomy, Kuiper shifted his focus to planetary research in the 1940s. In 1944 he was able to confirm the presence of a methane atmosphere around Saturn's moon Titan. In 1948 he predicted (correctly) that carbon dioxide is a major component of the atmosphere of Mars, and he also correctly predicted that the rings of Saturn are composed of particles of ice. That same year he discovered the fifth moon of Uranus (Miranda), and in 1949 he discovered the second moon of Neptune (Nereid). In 1950 he obtained the first reliable measurement of the visual diameter of Pluto. In 1956 he proved that Mars's polar icecaps are composed of frozen water, not of carbon dioxide as had been previously assumed. Kuiper's 1964 prediction of what the surface of the Moon would be like to walk on (“it would be like crunchy snow”) was verified by the astronaut Neil Armstrong in 1969.

 In 1949 Kuiper proposed an influential theory of the origin of the solar system, suggesting that the planets had formed by the condensation of a large cloud of gas around the Sun. He also suggested the possible existence of a disk-shaped belt of comets orbiting the Sun at a distance of 30 to 50 astronomical units (astronomical unit). The existence of this belt of millions of comets was verified in the 1990s, and it was named the Kuiper belt. Kuiper also initiated the use of high-flying jet aircraft to carry telescopes for infrared observations above the obscuring layers of the atmosphere. The Kuiper Airborne Observatory (1974) was named in his honour, as were craters on the Moon, Mercury, and Mars.
 

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kuiper , Gerard Peter — (1905–1973) Dutch–American astronomer Born at Harenkarspel in the Netherlands, Kuiper studied at the University of Leiden, where he obtained his BSc in 1927 and his PhD in 1933. He immediately emigrated to America where he took up an appointment… …   Scientists

  • Kuiper, Gerard Peter — ► (1905 73) Astrónomo estadounidense. Autor de un estudio de las atmósferas de los planetas, la estructura del sistema solar y la geografía lunar, y un atlas de la Luna …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Gerard Peter Kuiper — Gerard P. Kuiper Gerard Peter Kuiper, eigentlich Gerrit Pieter Kuiper (* 7. Dezember 1905 in Harenkarspel; † 24. Dezember 1973 in Mexiko Stadt) war ein US amerikanischer Astronom niederländischer Herkunft.[1] Kuiper war das ält …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gerard Peter Kuiper — Gerard Kuiper Pour les articles homonymes, voir Kuiper. Gerard Kuiper en 1963 Gerard Peter Kuiper, né sous le nom Gerrit Pieter Kuiper (7 décembre …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gerard Peter Kuiper — noun United States astronomer (born in the Netherlands) who studied the solar system and suggested in 1951 that there is a belt of comet like debris at the edge of the solar system (1905 1973) • Syn: ↑Kuiper, ↑Gerard Kuiper • Instance Hypernyms:… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Kuiper — Kuiper, Gerard Peter …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Gerard Kuiper — Gerard P. Kuiper Gerard Peter Kuiper, eigentlich Gerrit Pieter Kuiper (* 7. Dezember 1905 in Harenkarspel; † 23. Dezember 1973 in Mexiko Stadt) war ein US amerikanischer Astronom niederländischer Herkunft. Kuiper war das älteste von vier Kindern …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kuiper belt — [kī′pər] n. 〚after G. P. Kuiper (1905 73), U.S. astronomer〛 a belt of icy debris orbiting in the outer solar system, thought to be the source of many comets * * * or Edgeworth Kuiper belt Disk shaped belt of billions of small, icy bodies orbiting …   Universalium

  • Kuiper (Asteroid) — Asteroid (1776) Kuiper Eigenschaften des Orbits (P L;orb=1 Simulation) Orbittyp Hauptgürtelasteroid Große Halbachse 3,1033  …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kuiper — noun United States astronomer (born in the Netherlands) who studied the solar system and suggested in 1951 that there is a belt of comet like debris at the edge of the solar system (1905 1973) • Syn: ↑Gerard Kuiper, ↑Gerard Peter Kuiper •… …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.