Memorials for SET Mentors

Space Environment Technologies acknowledges mentors who have contributed to the success of our community and our company. We are indebted to their assistance for advancing our evolution into space and their insightful challenges that will always be warmly remembered.

Barbara Tobiska (March 2, 1923 – May 11, 2023)

Barbara Tobiska (March 2, 1923 – May 11, 2023) was a mentor of Space Environment Technologies and passed away after 100 orbits around the Sun. Barbara was an educator throughout her life and she thought of herself primarily as a teacher. She once commented, “If I couldn’t feel like I was really making a difference in these people’s lives, I wouldn’t keep teaching.”

She obtained her bachelor’s degree in arts from Doane College in Crete, Nebraska and went on to serve as a teacher and mentor in art, swimming, and adult education. She was employed by Jefferson County School District’s Adult Education program for 36 years as an educator for hundreds of students. She taught the American Red Cross’ “Learn to Swim” program for over 50 years starting in college to pay her way through school and taught for years at the Lakewood Morse Park pool. She taught swimming and art in most of the Colorado towns where she lived, including LaPorte, Ft. Collins, Weldona, Sterling, Lamar, Montrose, Trinidad, Salida, and Alamosa before moving to Lakewood. She began her serious painting in 1946 as the first woman fire spotter on Twin Sisters Peak in the Colorado Front Range, while surrounded by the inspiration of the Colorado Rockies.

Her passion for art continued until the week before her passing, when she was working on her last painting. During her life, she produced nearly 5000 works, primarily using oils as the medium. Her subject matter was landscapes as well as still life but she produced space art as well. She contributed sixty years of time and energy in the Lakewood Colorado arts community towards building a lasting artistic presence in Colorado. She was a founding member of the Mountainside Art Guild. She was a driving force behind providing over 40 sculptures throughout the city of Lakewood beginning with the 1988 “Sculptures in the Park.” She helped design and complete the Cultural Center in the Lakewood City Commons area in 1998, including a 350-seat auditorium, 2 gallery areas, and community meeting spaces. She was appointed to the Lakewood Heritage, Culture & the Arts Commission in 1999 and served on the Lakewood Cultural Arts Citizen Advisory Commission and Task Force for Creating a Lakewood Arts Council. She was a founding member of the Lakewood Arts Council Gallery in Lakewood Colorado.

For Space Environment Technologies, she held unwavering optimism and resilience in the face of life’s challenges that served as an inspiration to all. During the Recession of 2008-2009, Barbara’s contributions of footing the bill for the payroll assured that the company’s employees thrived during difficult months.

Vince Wickwar (September 04, 1943 – September 27, 2022)

Vince B. Wickwar (September 04, 1943 – September 27, 2022) was a Physics Professor, a Pioneer Aeronomer, and a longtime member of the Center for Atmospheric and Space Sciences at Utah State University. He was an early pioneer in the field of aeronomy (the scientific study of the upper atmosphere of the Earth) and moved to Logan, Utah in 1988 to join the faculty of USU to take advantage of the low level of light pollution in Northern Utah’s Cache Valley. He created a unique upper atmospheric observatory to study the complex conditions of the Earth’s uppermost atmosphere. Residents of Logan became used to the beautiful green beam of light emanating from the top of the USU campus straight up into the night sky of Cache Valley. Early on the public made frequent calls to authorities to inquire about the unusual green light overhead.

At USU, Dr. Wickwar taught courses in optics and aeronomy, and served over many years as a thesis advisor for multiple graduate students. He was the principal investigator on numerous grants involving studies of the upper atmosphere employing lidar (light detecting and ranging) systems, photometers, Fabry-Perot interferometry, and incoherent-scatter (IS) radar. From 1973 to 1988, Dr. Wickwar was employed at SRI International in Menlo Park, California, where he was co-principal investigator of the Sondrestrom, Greenland based IS radar and principal investigator on numerous IS radar studies using data from the Arecibo (Puerto Rico), Chatanika (Alaska) / Sondrestrom, EISCAT (European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association’s IS radar systems in Northern Scandinavia), Millstone Hill (Massachusetts), and St. Santin (Aveyron, France) radars. These studies included the joint American-French plasma line experiments at high latitudes and investigations of photoelectrons and secondary electrons.

Dr. Wickwar’s field of aeronomy was created in the wake of the US-USSR nuclear test ban treaty in 1963, with the US wanting to better understand the possible effects of high altitude nuclear detonations on long-range communications. By using the recently created IS radar systems, scientists were able for the first time to observe the ionospheric physics associated with high altitude detonations. The thinking at the time was that if the US or others were to ever repeat the high altitude nuclear tests or, more ominously, in the event of a nuclear war, an IS radar (with the capability of measuring plasma densities, temperatures, and motions) would be a much better diagnostic of the fundamental processes that produced the observed effects on communications.

Dr. Wickwar also served as a correlative investigator on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite team and as a guest investigator on the Atmospheric Explorer and Dynamic Explorer satellite teams. He developed both hardware and software for data acquisition and analysis and was instrumental in establishing National Center for Atmospheric Research’ IS data base, which developed into the CEDAR (Coupling, Energetics, and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions) data base. During a 2-year leave-of-absence from SRI in the early 1980s, Dr. Wickwar served as the National Science Foundation Program Director for Aeronomy. He has collaborated extensively with French aeronomers at both the University of Grenoble and France’s Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique.

At the time of his death, Dr. Wickwar was one of the principal investigators in a large multi-university collaborative grant from the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency, or DARPA, to employ Dr. Wickwar’s lidar system to collect detailed wind and temperature measurements from the mesopause region – the junction between Earth’s upper atmosphere and space. His work in the AtmoSense project, while collaborating with Space Environment Technologies, was a factor in being able to determine the entire atmosphere density profile with great accuracy from 30 to 800 km altitude.

Bruce Bowman (February 04, 1945 – December 31, 2020)

Bruce R. Bowman (February 04, 1945 – December 31, 2020) graduated from the University of California in Astronomy (1967) and later received a M.S. degree in Satellite Geodesy and Geophysics from the University of Hawaii in 1974. From 2000-2013 he was an Astrodynamicist for the U.S. Air Force Space Command and between 2013 and 2020 was a Senior Research Scientist in Space Environment Technologies.

Bruce specialized in the analysis of atmospheric drag on satellite orbits caused by solar heating and geomagnetic storms. He demonstrated through his Jacchia-Bowman-2008 (JB2008) thermosphere density model that the density variations, semiannual density changes, and satellite drag coefficient variations were based on important physical processes in the upper atmosphere and could be parameterized. His work included improvements in high accuracy special orbit determination, ballistic coefficient modeling, daily computation of global thermospheric temperature variations, analysis of on-orbit accelerometer data, and research in orbit decay in free and transitional molecular flow regimes.

He was awarded the 2008 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement for his significant contributions to space environment understanding, including improving space catalog accuracy, providing better collision avoidance with reduced spacecraft maneuvers, and significantly increasing accuracy of decay predictions.

Because of Bruce’s work, which led to the most significant thermosphere density improvement since the 1960’s, the COSPAR international organization adopted his JB2008 model as the COSPAR International Reference Atmosphere. The International Standards Organization adopted his JB2008 model as the standard for the Earth’s Upper Atmosphere (IS 14222).

The U.S. Air Force Space Command adopted his model as the operational basis for representing the atmosphere for the entire low Earth satellite catalog. Bruce was responsible for analyzing, monitoring, and maintaining the operational U.S. Air Force High Accuracy Satellite Density Model (HASDM) with its constellation of calibration satellites. HASDM is a data assimilative system used to obtain real-time global thermospheric density corrections to JB2008 for computing accurate satellite orbits for all spacecraft in low Earth orbit.

Bill Vaughan (September 07, 1930 – December 23, 2020)

William Walton Vaughan, Jr., (September 07, 1930 – December 23, 2020) was a pioneer in the upper atmosphere community.

During his career, he served as Captain in the U.S. Air Force, Chief of the Atmospheric Science and Aerospace Environment Divisions with NASA, and was a charter member of the Federal Senior Executive Service.  His responsibilities included the establishment and interpretation of aerospace environment requirements for the design and operation of space vehicles and spacecraft including Jupiter vehicles, Apollo-Saturn vehicle, Space Shuttle, National Aerospace Plane and the International Space Station.  He worked with Wernher Von Braun and worked on projects for notable astronauts such as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

In activities with Space Environment Technologies, Bill worked tirelessly to develop the AIAA G-003 Guide to Reference and Standard Atmosphere Models and the ISO 11225 document of the same name. He led the effort in AIAA to have Bruce Bowman and W. Kent Tobiska become Associate Fellows.

Dr. Vaughan was the first Chairman of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Standards Executive Council.  He achieved Fellow status with the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and AIAA.  He was a former member of the International Space Standards Organization and professional member of the American Geophysical Union, American Association for Advancement of Science, Standards Engineering Society and American Society of Mechanical Engineers.  He authored or co-authored more than 120 technical reports and journal articles.  He was also former Associate Editor of the Journal of Aerospace Technology and Management and is listed in Who’s Who in the World and America.

Bill Atwell (May 03, 1939 – October 11, 2019)

William Atwell (May 03, 1939 – October 11, 2019) was a Senior Research Scientist of Space Environment Technologies. He was an internationally-recognized expert in the field of radiation physics that includes space radiation environments (geomagnetically-trapped Van Allen radiation, solar proton events, and galactic cosmic radiation), radiation effects on humans and onboard electronics/avionics systems, spacecraft and satellite 3-D CAD modeling and shielding analysis, development and use of high-energy particle transport/dose codes, active and passive detectors/dosimetry, and space radiation mission support (late Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, ASTP, Space Shuttle, and the International Space Station programs). Bill’s career covered 42 years with The Boeing Company, Houston, TX, and he retired as a high-level Boeing Technical Fellow in June 2014 and immediately joined SET.

He was awarded the 2008 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement for his internationally recognized expertise and 40 years of experience in the areas of: the space radiation environment; high-energy particle transport through materials; active and passive dosimetry; spacecraft, satellite, and anatomical modeling/shielding analyses; radiation detection instrumentation; and biological and physical effects.

During his career he was a Co-Investigator on a number of NASA and ESA experiments. He mentored MS/PhD students at Colorado State University, University of Southern California, University of Maryland, and Texan A & M University, and he served on the University of Houston-Clear Lake Physics Advisory Board for several years. In addition, he had over 300 scientific and technical publications and presentations. He had an MS and BS from Indiana State University (Major: Physics/Math with an English minor) and did his PhD work in Nuclear Engineering at the University of Florida.

He participated actively and fully in our community’s effort to improve safety for crew and passengers in the aviation radiation arena. For example, his shielding studies for the ARMAS program, his contributions to the NASA SAFESKY LWS Institute, his attendance at the annual Space Weather Workshop in Boulder (including his infamous late night “heater” sessions with some new cigar), his push to fly dosimeters on commercial suborbital spacecraft, and his role in assimilating measurements with models through the NASA LWS RADIAN project are a short, recent list.

Charles Barth (July 12, 1930 – October 14, 2014)

Charles A. Barth (July 12, 1930 – October 14, 2014) was director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder from 1965 to 1992 and professor until 2002 in CU-Boulder’s Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences. He remained involved in research activities through 2013.

Barth was a pioneer in developing space-borne ultraviolet spectrometers, small spacecraft platforms, and planetary exploration systems. Under his guidance, science instruments were sent to every planet in the solar system. He was involved in many NASA missions, including 59 sounding rocket flights; Mariners 5, 6, 7, and 9; OGO 2, 4, 5, and 6; AE C and D; Apollo 17; Pioneer Venus; Galileo; and Cassini. As Principal Investigator, Barth led the Solar Mesospheric Explorer (SME) and Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE) missions that were operated from LASP.

Since the late 1950s, Barth studied planetary atmospheres, including Earth’s upper and middle atmosphere. He was among the first to recognize the importance of nitric oxide in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and its significance to ozone and water vapor. Of 140 published papers, 25 percent addressed nitric oxide, including his last published paper in 2010.

He was primary adviser for 22 Ph.D. students at CU-Boulder and inspired countless undergraduates in science and engineering with his commitment to hands-on education and training. Well-recognized for his research and teaching, his awards include the AGU Nicolet Lecture (1999), NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal (1983), University of Colorado Robert L. Stearns Award (1979), and NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement (1972).

In the 1980’s Barth was the primary PhD dissertation advisor for SET’s founder, W. Kent Tobiska, and helped Tobiska develop a solid foundation in solar and atmospheric physics that carried into the formation of SET in 2001. Barth developed the concept for the Solar Mesosphere Explorer (SME), which was the first university built and run NASA satellite. Tobiska worked on the SME project during his initial graduate work in the early 1980’s.

Darrell Judge (November 02, 1934 – August 26, 2014)

Darrell L. Judge (November 02, 1934 – August 26, 2014) was a professor emeritus of physics and astronomy and of astronautical engineering at the University of Southern California. He was an expert in the fields of spectroscopy, space science and solar physics, and was the founding director of the USC Space Sciences Center.

Following graduate school at USC Dornsife in the mid-1960s, Judge taught in the Department of Physics and Astronomy for 48 years. One of his greatest legacies is the USC Space Sciences Center (SSC), which he founded in 1978 to create new and multidisciplinary research opportunities for scientists and students. He was director of SSC from its inception in 1978 until his retirement in May 2013. Some of his most notable contributions include experiments flown on Pioneer 10 and 11 and the SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) spacecraft (a collaboration between NASA and the ESA).

In the early 2000’s Judge worked closely with Space Environment Technologies to evolve the solar irradiance measurements from his SOHO SEM instrument into the current JB2008 S10 index that dramatically improved specification of the Earth’s upper atmosphere densities. Leonid Didkovsky became the successor Director of SSC following Judge’s retirement and Didkovsky continues to play a major role in designing and developing SET instrumentation, particularly for the ARMAS program. Seth Wieman, also part of SSC under Judge, continues to contribute importantly to SET’s ARMAS mechanical systems development. Kevin Judge, son of Darrell Judge, has long worked with SET to create the firmware capability for ARMAS.

Dick Donnelly (March 26, 1937 – August 19, 2009)

Richard F. Donnelly (March 26, 1937 – August 19, 2009) was a mentor of Space Environment Technologies. He graduated from Washington High School and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois.

Dick did research in ionospheric and solar-terrestrial physics at the Boulder Labs for 30 years. He liked to say that they paid him for doing his hobby. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Dick was instrumental in organizing the SOLar Electromagnetic Radiation Study for cycle 22 (SOLERS22) and published the “Proceedings of the Workshop on the Solar Electromagnetic Radiation Study for Solar Cycle 22” in July 1992 through NOAA ERL.

Dick played a key role in the history of Space Environment Technologies. Both Tobiska (SET President and Space Weather Division Chief Scientist) and Bouwer (Space Weather Division Chief Engineer) worked for Dick at NOAA ERL SEL in the 1980’s.

Under Dick’s guidance, they developed major indices now operationally used by the space weather community including the GOES 0.1-0.8 nm background index, the NOAA Mg II core-to-wing ratio index, and the SERF2 solar flux model, which was the precursor to SOLAR2000 and later SIP. These indices and solar irradiances were originally developed under Dick’s mentorship and now provide flare irradiances and indices for major operational space weather systems. Some of these are the JB2008 thermospheric density model that provides the most accurate specification of densities for satellite operations. CAPS and, soon, GAIM, incorporate information from these irradiances and indices that serve alerts and warnings to aviation and emergency responder HF communication users.

Luigi Giuseppe Jacchia (June 4, 1910 – May 8, 1996)

Luigi Giuseppe Jacchia (June 4, 1910 – May 8, 1996) was a mentor of Space Environment Technologies. His thermosphere density modeling in the 1960’s and 1970’s laid the basis for understanding how the upper atmosphere interacts with low Earth orbiting satellites. His work was the basis for the SET/Omitron/USAFSPC JB2008 model.

Jacchia was an Italian American astronomer who, at the beginning of the space era, provided a fundamental contribution to the upper atmosphere studies. He become the chair of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) activity modeling atmosphere density and headed the atmospheric division of the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA).

Born in Trieste, Italy he observed the night sky with his binoculars starting at a young age. He moved to Bologna to study at the University, where he found a job at the University Astronomical Observatory, at first as a volunteer and then, after his degree in Physics, as a university assistant becoming Guido Horn d’Arturo’s disciple. He worked with meteorological observations and the study of variable stars, publishing numerous papers in “Coelum” and in international astronomical journals.

Forced to leave Italy in 1938 due to anti-Jewish laws, he found work at Harvard University in the United States, where he continued his activity with the variable stars.

During the Second World War, he worked in service of the US armed forces; after the conflict, he resumed his place at Harvard and investigated meteors by studying their motion and, indirectly, the Earth’s atmosphere and its perturbations.

Following the Sputnik I launch in October 1957, he took advantage of his knowledge about the atmosphere and created the first credible models that predicted the orbital motion of artificial satellites with atmospheric drag. During the following years he refined his models that were linked with solar and geomagnetic activity. His Jacchia-1970 (J70) model was a pathbreaker followed shortly by the Jacchia-1971 (J71), which became the basis for the COSPAR International Reference Atmosphere (CIRA) 1972 internationally accepted model.