Audouin DOLLFUS

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Astronomer, Geographer

FrenchBorn Audouin Charles DOLLFUS

French astronomer and aeronaut

Born on November 12, 1924 in Paris , France

Died on October 01, 2010 in Versailles, Yvelines , France

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Audouin Dollfus studied at the University of Paris, obtaining a doctorate in physical sciences in 1955. Beginning in 1946, Dollfus worked as an astronomer at the Meudon Observatory, following his advisor and mentor Bernard Lyot. In particular, he directed the Laboratory of Solar System Physics there. Today he is currently an honorary astronomer at the Paris Observatory. Most of his work was carried out based on observations from the Pic du Midi Observatory, and his preferred research method is the use of polarized light as a diagnostic of the properties of solar system objects. Through patient and persistent research and the development of new observational techniques, he was able to obtain many remarkable results. Dollfus has published more than 300 scientific publications, relating primarily to astrophysics of the solar system.



Before the Viking spacecraft landed on Mars, the composition of the Martian surface was the subject of many debates. Dollfus tried to determine the composition of the Martian desert, through comparison with the appearance in polarized light of several hundred terrestrial minerals. He found that only pulverized limonite (Fe2O3) corresponded with the appearance of Mars, and concluded that the Martian surface could be composed of iron oxide. However, another astronomer, Gerald Kuiper of the University of Chicago, disagreed with this conclusion, believing that fine-grained igneous rocks were a better fit to the data, but subsequent observations proved Dollfus correct.

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