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Robert B. Leighton

AKA Robert Benjamin Leighton

Born: 10-Sep-1919
Birthplace: Detroit, MI
Died: 9-Mar-1997
Location of death: Pasadena, CA
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Astronomer, Physicist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Leighton dishes

Trained as a particle physicist but more renowned as an astrophysicist, Robert B. Leighton invented Leighton dishes, a sort of hybrid of light and radio telescopes which were used to establish the existence of the sun's magnetic field and five-minute oscillations. He oversaw the photography from several of NASA's mid-1960s Mariner probes to Mars, devising groundbreaking technology that involved storing images in dot-arrays similar to television technology, then storing the data in vidicon tubes for scanning, digitizing, and storage on magnetic tape to be sent to Earth later (when Mariner's path provided a clear path for broadcasting) on the craft's tiny 10-watt radio transmitter. Leighton also studied mu-meson decay and the energy spectrum of decay electrons, and completed the first infrared survey of the sky. He studied under Richard Feynman, and edited several books compiling Feynman's lectures.

Wife: Alice Leighton
Son: Alan Leighton
Son: Ralph Leighton
Wife: Marge Leighton

    High School: Berendo High School, Los Angeles, CA (1937)
    University: Los Angeles City College (attended, 1937-39)
    University: BS Physics, California Institute of Technology (1941)
    University: MS Physics, California Institute of Technology (1944)
    University: PhD Physics, California Institute of Technology (1947)
    Scholar: Physics, California Institute of Technology (1947-49)
    Teacher: Physics, California Institute of Technology (1949-59)
    Professor: Physics, California Institute of Technology (1959-97)

    James Craig Watson Medal 1986
    Rumford Prize 1986
    NASA Mariner Mars Exploration Program
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Astronomical Society
    American Physical Society
    National Academy of Sciences 1963
    Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society

Author of books:
Principles of Modern Physics (1959)
The Voyage of Mariner IV (1966, with Richard K Sloan)
Exercises in Introductory Physics (1996, with Rochus Vogt)


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