2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, a world-wide initiative to raise awareness of astronomy. Here at the University of Iowa, the Physics and Astronomy department has long been at the forefront of astronomical research. The pioneering work of Dr. James Van Allen at the beginning of the US space program, and his subsequent involvement throughout his career, created a rich legacy in the astronomical community.
The University of Iowa, through the efforts of Dr. Van Allen, was the location for a meeting in 1962 that proved fundamental to the development of NASA. The Space Science Summer Study was a two-month intensive session that brought together space scientists from around the country to consider dozens of issues related to the role of science in the mission of NASA. The documents this group produced established the principles behind some of NASA's most important programs, such as the Apollo missions to the moon, the development of a space telescope, and unmanned research missions to the planets. The effects of the Summer Study were felt throughout the rest of the twentieth century at NASA.
Many of the meetings and seminars took place in the University Library, which was one of the few buildings with air conditinoing at the time. Participants stayed in dormitories or private homes in Iowa City. The program at left was mailed to participants to provide them with a sense of the town, and included activities for the many family members who accompanied the researchers to Iowa City. These documents now reside in the papers of James Van Allen in University Archives.