John S. Lewis

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John S. Lewis is a professor emeritus of planetary science at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Labratory. He was the former co-director for Science of the NASA/University of Arizona Space Engineering Research Center for Utilization of Local Planetary Resources from 1988 to 2007. As a professor of Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he taught space sciences and cosmochemistry. Lewis was on the forefront of the exploration of the Solar System. He was visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology, and visiting professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing (2005–2006).

His research interests center on the application of chemistry to astronomical problems, including the origin of the Solar System, the evolution of planetary atmospheres, the origin of organic matter in planetary environments, the chemical structure and history of icy satellites, the hazards of comet and asteroid bombardment of Earth, and the extraction, processing, and use of the energy and material resources of nearby space.

Lewis has served as member or chairman of a wide variety of NASA and NAS advisory committees and review panels. He has written seventeen books, including undergraduate and graduate level texts and popular science books, and has authored over 150 scientific publications. He is an expert on the composition and chemistry of asteroids and comets and has written such popular science books as Rain of Iron and Ice and Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from the Asteroids, Comets, and Planets.

He has lectured at over a hundred colleges, universities, and research centers around the world. He has made a number of television specials for the Discovery Channels in the United States, Canada, and England, the Science Fiction channel, the History Channel, and German and Japanese educational television, in addition to some sixty television interviews. In recent years he has been a commentator on China Central Television (CCTV9) for manned spaceflights (Shenzhou 6, 7) and unmanned lunar missions (Chang’e 1, 2).

He was a member of the Board of Directors of American Rocket Company and joined Deep Space Industries as Chief Scientist in 2016.

Lewis holds a PhD in geochemistry and cosmochemistry from University of California, San Diego, where he held a National Defense Education Act research fellowship. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Princeton University as a National Merit Scholar. He earned his master’s degree in inorganic chemistry from Dartmouth College, where he was a graduate teaching assistant.

He and his wife, Peg, have six children. They converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1980. Together they served a mission in the International zone of the Family History Library in 2007–2009.