Dr. Tom Carr

was a Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Florida Astronomy Department. He was one of the founding members of the Radio JOVE project. He contributed many ideas and designed the Radio JOVE two-dipole array.

He entered the University of Florida as an undergraduate in 1933 at age 16 and completed his Master of Science in 1940. Shortly before the start of WWII, Dr. Carr was recruited by the War Department as a Physicist and worked at the Army Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland during the war. Following the end of the war, he participated in Operation Crossroads for the U.S. Navy in the tests of the A-bomb at Bikini. In 1946, after the Bikini tests, he was admitted into the physics graduate program at University of Chicago but a serious illness caused him to withdraw. After recovering, he worked for several years as a physicist at the Air Force Missile Test Center in Florida.

He was admitted into the physics graduate program at the University of Florida where he completed his Ph.D. in 1958 on the newly discovered decametric radiation from Jupiter. His degree in Physics was the first degree awarded in the subfield of Astronomy at the Univ. of Florida.

Subsequently, he joined the faculty of the Physics Department of the Univ. of Florida and continued his career and research on Jupiter’s decametric emission in collaboration with Professor Alex G. Smith. He was awarded a full professorship in 1966. After the Astronomy Dept. separated from the Physics Dept. in 1979, he served as chairman of the Astronomy Department between 1985 and 1988. In 1985 he became the Director of the University of Florida Radio Observatory until his retirement in 1995.

He was the co-initiator of the radio astronomy program at the University of Florida in 1956 and in 1959 the co-initiator of the radio astronomy program at the University of Chile. He and Prof. A.G. Smith started the observations of Jupiter radio emission in Chile in what was to become the Maipu Radio Observatory near Santiago.

In the late 1960’s Dr. Carr designed and with the help of engineers and students built the large 26.3 MHz 640 dipole array at the UF Radio Observatory for observing Jupiter’s radio emission. At that time it was the largest single frequency antenna array devoted to Jupiter observations and the only low frequency antenna with a system of Butler matrices for providing a multiple beam system. He collaborated with the Chilean radio astronomers in the design of the 528 dipole large array at 45 MHz at the Maipu Radio Observatory in Chile.

Dr. Carr’s interest in planetary radio emission covered many topics. He was a co-investigator on the Planetary Radio Astronomy (PRA) instrument on the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, studying the low frequency emission of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Using ground-based radio telescopes and spacecraft data he studied several aspects of the Jovian decametric emission which included the polarization, Very Long Baseline Interferometry, long term variations of the intensity and occurrence probabilities, computation of the radio rotational period, the beaming of the decametric emission, the modeling of the modulation lanes and the micro structure of the Short (S) bursts. After his retirement in 1995 and until he passed away, he continued his investigations in the microstructure of the S bursts and its relationship with the cyclotron maser mechanism.

In recognition of his contributions to planetary radio astronomy, asteroid 96268 was named and dedicated to Dr. Carr.

He was the author or co-author of over 117 scientific papers and contributed to several books including:

  • Radio Exploration of the Planetary System with A.G. Smith
  • the chapter “Phenomenology of Magnetospheric Radio Emissions” with M.D. Desch and J.K. Alexander in Physics of the Jovian Magnetosphere edited by A.J. Dessler.
  • the sub chapter “Jupiter and Io” with J.D. Kraus in Radio Astronomy by J.D. Kraus.
  • the chapter “Recent Decametric and Hectometric Observations of Jupiter” with M.D. Desch in Jupiter edited by Tom Gehrels.

Dr. Carr was a member of several professional and honor societies including the American Astronomical Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the International Astronomical Union.

He mentored, supported and served as chair on the committees of many graduate students (including the editor of the Jove Bulletin). For those who had the opportunity of being his students and colleagues, his departure will leave a void in our professional and personal lives. We all feel that we lost our leader, mentor and friend.