Richard B. Hoover

Richard B. Hoover

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Richard B. Hoover (b. January 3, 1943) is a NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 scientist who has authored 33 Volumes and 250 papers on astrobiology
Astrobiology
Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. This interdisciplinary field encompasses the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and habitable planets outside our Solar System, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry,...

, extremophile
Extremophile
An extremophile is an organism that thrives in physically or geochemically extreme conditions that are detrimental to most life on Earth. In contrast, organisms that live in more moderate environments may be termed mesophiles or neutrophiles...

s, diatoms, solar physics
Solar physics
For the physics journal, see Solar Physics Solar physics is the study of our Sun. It is a branch of astrophysics that specializes in exploiting and explaining the detailed measurements that are possible only for our closest star...

, X-ray/EUV optics and meteorites. He is employed at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Marshall Space Flight Center
The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center is the U.S. government's civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. The largest center of NASA, MSFC's first mission was developing the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo moon program...

 since 1966, where he conducts research on microbial extremophiles, microfossils, and chemical biomarkers in precambrian rocks and carbonaceous meteorites. He holds 11 U.S. patents and was 1992 NASA Inventor of the Year.

Hoover is best known for having claimed three times (1997, 2007, and 2011) the discovery of extraterrestrial microfossils in a collection of select meteorites. However, NASA officially distanced itself from Hoover's claim and his lack of expert peer review
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

s.

Early life


Hoover was born in Sikeston, Missouri
Sikeston, Missouri
Sikeston is a city located both in southern Scott County and northern New Madrid County, in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is geographically situated just north of the "Missouri Bootheel", although many locals consider Sikeston a part of it. By way of Interstate 55, Sikeston is close to the...

 on January 3, 1943. He obtained his B.Sc. degree with majors in physics, mathematics and French in 1964 from Henderson State University
Henderson State University
Henderson State University, founded in 1890 as Arkadelphia Methodist College, is a four-year public liberal arts university located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, United States. It is Arkansas's only member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges...

 in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He did graduate work in theoretical mathematics at Duke University
Duke University
Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina, United States. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco industrialist James B...

 on an NSF fellowship translating the Nicolas Bourbaki
Nicolas Bourbaki
Nicolas Bourbaki is the collective pseudonym under which a group of 20th-century mathematicians wrote a series of books presenting an exposition of modern advanced mathematics, beginning in 1935. With the goal of founding all of mathematics on set theory, the group strove for rigour and generality...

 French volume on multi-dimensional vector spaces, and was completing his thesis on X-ray diffraction in the Physics Department of the University of Arkansas
University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas is a public, co-educational, land-grant, space-grant, research university. It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with very high research activity. It is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System and is located in...

 when he left the University in 1966 to join NASA.

Career


Working at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Marshall Space Flight Center
The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center is the U.S. government's civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. The largest center of NASA, MSFC's first mission was developing the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo moon program...

 in Huntsville, Alabama, beginning in 1966, Hoover has taken part in astrobiological research carried out there since 1997. In 1998, he participated in two of the astrobiology proposals funded by the newly formed NASA Virtual Astrobiology Institute. He was co-investigator with David McKay
David McKay
- People :* David McKay , an activist and artist known for his betrayal by Brandon Darby and subsequent incarceration* David McKay , Scottish actor known for the television show Shoebox Zoo...

 (PI) of the NASA Johnson Space Center on the study of biomarkers and microfossils in meteorite
Meteorite
A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. Meteorites can be big or small. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids...

s, astromaterials and ancient terrestrial rocks, and collaborated with Kenneth Nealson (PI) from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena on the border of La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena...

 on the investigation of microbial extremophile
Extremophile
An extremophile is an organism that thrives in physically or geochemically extreme conditions that are detrimental to most life on Earth. In contrast, organisms that live in more moderate environments may be termed mesophiles or neutrophiles...

s from some of the Earth's most hostile environments as related to the co-evolution of planets and biosphere
Biosphere
The biosphere is the global sum of all ecosystems. It can also be called the zone of life on Earth, a closed and self-regulating system...

s.

Hoover is noted for his early work at NASA on Fraunhofer diffraction
Fraunhofer diffraction
In optics, the Fraunhofer diffraction equation is used to model the diffraction of waves when the diffraction pattern is viewed at a long distance from the diffracting object, and also when it is viewed at the focal plane of an imaging lens....

, and the development of X-ray/EUV telescopes for solar physics
Solar physics
For the physics journal, see Solar Physics Solar physics is the study of our Sun. It is a branch of astrophysics that specializes in exploiting and explaining the detailed measurements that are possible only for our closest star...

 research. He developed the "ATM Experiment S-056 grazing incidence X-ray telescope" and obtained 25,000 solar x-ray images from Skylab
Skylab
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of...

, and developed the instrument that obtained the first high resolution X-ray/EUV (X-ray to extreme ultraviolet) images of the Sun ever obtained with a normal incidence multilayer X-ray telescope
X-ray telescope
An X-ray telescope is a telescope that is designed to observe remote objects in the X-ray spectrum. In order to get above the Earth's atmosphere, which is opaque to X-rays, X-ray telescopes must be mounted on high altitude rockets or artificial satellites.-Optical design:X-ray telescopes can use...

.
He performed research on unicellular algae
Algae
Algae are a large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and "simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many...

 known as diatom
Diatom
Diatoms are a major group of algae, and are one of the most common types of phytoplankton. Most diatoms are unicellular, although they can exist as colonies in the shape of filaments or ribbons , fans , zigzags , or stellate colonies . Diatoms are producers within the food chain...

s, and is noted for his discovery of microbial extremophile
Extremophile
An extremophile is an organism that thrives in physically or geochemically extreme conditions that are detrimental to most life on Earth. In contrast, organisms that live in more moderate environments may be termed mesophiles or neutrophiles...

s from places such as Mono Lake
Mono Lake
Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline lake in Mono County, California, formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in a basin that has no outlet to the ocean...

, deep Lake Vostok
Lake Vostok
Lake Vostok is the largest of more than 140 subglacial lakes found under the surface of Antarctica. The overlying ice provides a continuous paleoclimatic record of 400,000 years, although the lake water itself may have been isolated for 15 to 25 million years. The lake is named after the...

 ice cores, deep sea hydrothermal vent
Hydrothermal vent
A hydrothermal vent is a fissure in a planet's surface from which geothermally heated water issues. Hydrothermal vents are commonly found near volcanically active places, areas where tectonic plates are moving apart, ocean basins, and hotspots. Hydrothermal vents exist because the earth is both...

s, and the living pleistocene bacterium Carnobacterium pleistocenium isolated from the 32,000 year old permafrost
Permafrost
In geology, permafrost, cryotic soil or permafrost soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water for two or more years. Ice is not always present, as may be in the case of nonporous bedrock, but it frequently occurs and it may be in amounts exceeding the potential hydraulic saturation of...

 from Fox Tunnel in Alaska.

Carbonaceous meteorites


Since 1997, Richard B. Hoover has published numerous papers in scientific conference proceedings and in peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and book chapters describing what he believes is evidence for the existence of indigenous microfossils of cyanobacteria and other filamentous prokaryotes in the CI1
CI1 fossils
CI1 fossils refer to alleged morphological evidence of microfossils found in five CI1 carbonaceous chondrite meteorite fall: Alais, Orgueil, Ivuna, Tonk and Revelstoke. The research was published in March 2011 in the Journal of Cosmology by Richard B. Hoover, an engineer...

 (Ivuna and Orgueil
Orgueil
Orgueil is a commune in the Tarn-et-Garonne department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in southern France.-History:Orgueil has existed for more than 1000 years. It was first mentioned in the 9th century, when Orgueil was part of Saint-Sernin Abbaye in Toulouse....

) and CM2 (Murchison
Murchison meteorite
The Murchison meteorite is named after Murchison, Victoria, in Australia. It is one of the most studied meteorites due to its large mass , the fact that it was an observed fall, and it belongs to a group of meteorites rich in organic compounds....

 and Murray) carbonaceous meteorites
Carbonaceous chondrite
Carbonaceous chondrites or C chondrites are a class of chondritic meteorites comprising at least 7 known groups and many ungrouped meteorites. They include some of the most primitive known meteorites...

. He organized and co-chaired the NASA/NATO/INTAS sponsored 'Astrobiology Advanced Study Institute' that was held in Chania, Crete in 2002. In 2005, he published a description of what he claims are microfossils found in the Murchison meteorites, and microfossils from the Orgueil meteorite.

Hoover's evidence for fossilized bacteria in meteorites has been published in 1997, 2007, and 2011. However, NASA officially distanced itself from Hoover's claim and his lack of expert peer review
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

s.

Extremophiles


Hoover has collected meteorites and microbial extremophiles from Antarctica; novel bacteria from glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s and permafrost
Permafrost
In geology, permafrost, cryotic soil or permafrost soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water for two or more years. Ice is not always present, as may be in the case of nonporous bedrock, but it frequently occurs and it may be in amounts exceeding the potential hydraulic saturation of...

 of Antarctica, Patagonia, Siberia, Alaska and from haloalkaline lakes, geysers and volcanoes of California, Alaska, Crete and Hawaii. Hoover has described and published several new species and two new genera of bacteria and archaea: Anaerovirgula and Proteocatella. He has authored four new species of bacteria (Spirochaeta americana
Spirochaeta americana
Spirochaeta americana is a relatively newly discovered single-celled extremophile. This haloalkaliphilic and obligately anaerobic bacteria can be found in the bleach-like highly alkaline, salty, deep waters of California's Mono Lake....

, Desulfonatronum thiodismutans, Tindallia californiensis
) from Mono Lake
Mono Lake
Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline lake in Mono County, California, formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in a basin that has no outlet to the ocean...

; and Carnobacterium pleistocenium
Carnobacterium pleistocenium
Carnobacterium pleistocenium is a type of recently discovered bacterium from the arctic part of Alaska. It was found in permafrost, seemingly frozen there for 32,000 years. Melting the ice, however, brought these extremophiles back to life. This is the first case of an organism "coming back to...

that survived for 32,000 years in a frozen Alaskan pond.
;

2008: Tawani Foundation International Lake Untersee, Antarctica Expedition to search for extremophiles in the Anuchin Glacier and beneath the permanent ice cover of Lake Untersee:;

2009: BBC Expedition to Vatnajökull Ice Cap and Kverkfjöll, Glacier Ice Cave in Iceland to explore life in ice and film the BBC/Discovery production "Seven Wonders of the Solar System."

For Expeditions to Alaska, Siberia and Antarctica Hoover was elected a Fellow National (FN’01) of the Explorer’s Club. He carried Explorer’s Club # 162 on the expeditions to study microbial extremophiles in the Schirmacher Oasis and Lake Untersee of East Antarctica and prepared the Flag Report describing preliminary results from these Antarctic expeditions:

Other


Hoover co-directed the NATO Advanced Study Institute on Astrobiology and his book "Perspectives in Astrobiology" was published in 2005. He is a fellow of SPIE and has served on the Boards of Directors of SPIE (1991–2002); the American Association of Engineering Societies (1999–2001) and the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (2002). Richard B. Hoover was 2001 President of SPIE. In 2009, Hoover was awarded the highest honor bestowed by SPIE – the Gold Medal of the Society - "In Recognition for his work X-Ray/EUV Optics and Astrobiology".

On April 1 2011, the James Randi Educational Foundation
James Randi Educational Foundation
The James Randi Educational Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 by magician and skeptic James Randi. The JREF's mission includes educating the public and the media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled...

 which does not claim particular expertise in astronomy or biology awarded Hoover the Pigasus Award
Pigasus Award
The Pigasus Award is the name of an annual tongue-in-cheek honor recognized by noted skeptic James Randi. The awards seek to expose parapsychological, paranormal or psychic frauds that Randi has noted over the previous year...

for claiming unfounded evidence for microscopic life found on meteorites.