Former Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Edward Stone has been awarded the prestigious Shaw Prize in Astronomy for his leadership in the Voyager project, it was announced Wednesday.

The prize comes with a monetary award of $1.2 million.

Stone is currently the David Morrisroe Professor of Physics at Caltech and the project scientist for NASA’s Voyager mission for the past 47 years.

The Voyager project “has, over the past four decades, transformed our understanding of the four giant planets and the outer solar system, and has now begun to explore interstellar space,” according to the award citation.

“This is a tremendous honor,” Stone said, “and a tribute to the teams who designed, developed, launched and operated Voyager on an inspiring journey of more than four decades.”

Since 1972, Stone has served as the project scientist for the Voyager mission, twin spacecraft designed to tour the solar system and its farthest reaches. The Voyager mission is managed by JPL in Pasadena, which Caltech manages for NASA.

Voyager 2 launched in August 1977, and Voyager 1 soon followed, launching in September 1977. Some of the mission’s many highlights include the first high-resolution images of the four giant planets of our solar system — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — the discovery of volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io, the first images of rings of Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune, and the discovery of gaps and other complex structures in Saturn’s ring.

Stone came to Caltech in 1964 as a research fellow, joining the faculty as an assistant professor in 1967. He became the Morrisroe professor in 1994 and, in 2004, became the vice provost for special projects at Caltech.

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