John "Jack" McCauley Bonita Springs, FL
John "Jack" McCauley, 80, died April 20, 2012 after a brief stay at Joanne's House (Hope Hospice) in Bonita Springs, FL, his winter home since 1999.
He leaves behind his loving wife, Carol Breed-McCauley; his four children: Camilla Burns (John), James, John (Patricia), and William (Andy); his brother, Robert and his former wife, Camilla (both of Flagstaff, AZ); five grandchildren: Rachael, Riley, Callen, Mark and Natalie; 13 step-grandchildren and one stepgreat-grandchild.
Jack enjoyed a lifelong, joyful and storied career as an eminent scientist in Menlo Park, CA and Flagstaff, AZ, where he led pioneering research in geology of the Earth's deserts, the Moon, Mercury and Mars. He was a loving father for his children and a world traveler with his wife and fellow geologist, Carol.
Jack was born April 2, 1932 in Millburn, NJ, the oldest son of Frank and Margaret McCauley. He graduated from La Salle Academy and Fordham University (1953), and served as a Line Officer aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter "Dione" in the Gulf of Mexico during the Korean War. He earned the Ph.D. in Geology at Columbia University (1959).
Dr. McCauley was an Associate Professor of Geology at the University of South Carolina until 1962, when he was invited (by Gene Shoemaker) to join a new group in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The new Branch of Astrogeologic Studies, working together with NASA, was charged with preparations to land astronauts safely on the Moon. Jack's work involved geologic mapping of parts of the Moon, using first the visual observations and photographs from telescopes, and later, images from Surveyor landers and Lunar Orbiters. His work supported the identification and selection of safe and scientifically interesting landing sites for the Apollo Project. The moon-mapping effort and astronaut training by USGS geologists, including McCauley, are described in the book "To a Rocky Moon" (1993) by Jack's friend and colleague Don Wilhelms. With Wilhelms, Jack co-authored the classic "Geologic Map of the Near Side of the Moon" (1971).
When the Apollo era ended with the Apollo 17 mission, Dr. McCauley, as Chief of the Branch of Astrogeology, turned his attention to the planet Mars. Jack served as Geology Team Leader for the first orbital mission to Mars (1971). Mariner 9 arrived in orbit during a planet-wide dust storm, but when the dust cleared, television images revealed an enormous canyon system and huge volcanoes. Dr. McCauley recognized geologic evidence for extensive wind erosion on Mars (1973) and went on to study similar wind-formed features in deserts of Earth, including coastal Peru, North Africa, central Iran and the American Southwest. His field work, with his wife Carol, using Space Shuttle radar images over the hyperarid Eastern Sahara of Egypt and Sudan revealed ancient, sandburied river systems and associated prehistoric stone tools (Science, 1982). Dr. McCauley retired from the USGS in 1986 after the demise of the shuttle Challenger, which destroyed the onboard imaging experiment needed for his further research.
Dr. McCauley earned numerous scientific awards, including: Special Astronaut Training Award from the Geological Society of America; Autometric Award from the American Society of Photogrammetry for his paper on the radar results; Special Award from the Government of Egypt; Group Award from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Meritorious Service Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
A gathering to celebrate Jack's life will take place during the summer in Flagstaff.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to the Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff and the Salvation Army.