CEDAR email: In Memory of Juan Fontenla, 1948-2018

Oppenheim, Meers M meerso at bu.edu
Wed Jan 31 14:43:45 MST 2018

With great sorrow, I have to announce that Juan M. Fontenla, 69, died at home on Thursday, January 11, 2018, surrounded by his family.  He was an active and prominent solar and space physicist and astronomer, having published hundreds of papers and abstracts since receiving his Ph.D. in 1986 from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.  In the last few years, Juan had worked with members of the CEDAR community on a number of projects where he provided high resolution spectral data to upper atmosphere modelers.

My colleagues at Boston Univerisity and I have had the good fortune to collaborate with Juan for the last few years on a solar physics project.  He was trying to understand why the lower solar atmosphere heats a few 100 kilometers above the surface (photosphere).  To do this, he proposed a hypothesis based on his understanding of a heating mechanism active in the Earth’s ionosphere.  As I am primarily an ionospheric plasma physicist, he taught me an enormous amount about the physics of the sun.  He also taught me about intellectual rigor, honesty and pushing to solve the important questions in science.  He will be greatly missed.

Juan had a long and varied career.  He worked on solar instrumentation and astrophysical plasma models at the Institute for Astronomy and Space Physics (IAFE, Buenos Aires, Argentina), NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC, Huntsville, AL), NCAR High Altitude Observatory (HAO, Boulder, CO), University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP, Boulder, CO), and NorthWest Research Associates (NWRA, Boulder, CO). He made numerous contributions to the study of the sun and stars during his 37-year career. Even during his time working on commercial software development in 1996-2002, he created his sophisticated model of the solar radiation that he named the Solar Radiation Physical Model (SRPM). He is perhaps best known for the SRPM and the application of this model for studying the solar spectral irradiance variability for the NASA Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) mission. You can post condolences for his family and friends at his obituary website at: https://cannonbyrd.com/john-manuel-fontenla/ .

Meers Oppenheim, Professor of Astronomy, Boston University

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