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In Memoriam: Michel Festou (1945-2005)

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Old May 20th 05, 05:03 PM
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Default In Memoriam: Michel Festou (1945-2005)


Michel Festou, Director of Research at the Astrophysics Laboratory of
Toulouse-Tarbes, at Midi-Pyrenees Observatory (France), died May 11
at the age of 60 after a recent diagnosis of stomach cancer.
Festou was a widely recognized expert in the study of comets, with
particular interest in their chemical properties as determined
through measurements of their ultraviolet radiation. He received his
Ph.D. from the University of Paris VI in 1978 under the direction of
Jacques Blamont. In his thesis, he developed his "vectorial model"
which describes the kinematics of gases in the cometary comae, and
which has become a standard for interpreting coma emissions from many
atomic and molecular species. Typical of Michel's generosity, he
freely gave away copies of his modeling program to anyone who asked
and patiently helped them learn how to use it. He played a major
role in an observational campaign of comets performed with the
International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) satellite over a period of
18 years. Festou's continuing cometary interest and expertise led
him to become a co-investigator for the ultraviolet spectrograph
aboard the Rosetta mission. In his final years and months, Michel
was the principal editor and architect for the book Comets II, with
the goal of setting the foundation for cometary science during the
next decade. Michel often remarked that he wanted this book to be
his gift to the world of planetary science, but little did we know it
would be the last of his many gifts to our field. We have lost a
great man and a good friend. He will be sorely missed. Messages to
the family may be sent to Michel's son: Dr. Nicolas FESTOU, 9 av
Edouard Droz, 25000 BESANCON, FRANCE.


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