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In memory of Dr. Michael Freilich

We were greatly saddened to hear that Michael Freilich passed away on 5th August. Mike was director of the earth science division of NASA for more than 12 years. He was blessed with gifts both as a talented scientist and a superb communicator and worked tirelessly to promote the NASA mission and the importance of earth and planetary science as a whole. At JpGU, we came to know Mike well after NASA began to bring the HyperWall booth to our annual meetings. When we first began this venture, one of our hopes was that the NASA brand would help attract more younger people, like high school students, to the JpGU venue.
Thanks in no small part to Mike’s passionate presentations at the booth, the outcome far exceeded anything that we could have imagined.
Through watching his performances on the stage in front of the big HyperWall display, we at JpGU learned what it takes to stimulate the curiosity of younger students and the amount of energy necessary to establish a connection by which true communication with students becomes possible. Originally our focus was on the importance of the high-resolution movie of the HyperWall presentation, but through Mike we learned how a combination of an enthusiastic speaker with high-quality images sends a powerful message that resonates with the minds of younger generations. Occasionally in his excitement, Mike made jokes that were difficult for the Japanese teenagers to follow, and which presented a real challenge to the simultaneous translator standing between Mike and the students! But it seemed that he enjoyed even these moments of experiencing a cultural gap. There was never any doubt about how much Mike liked Japan. We thank Mike for his contributions to the development of JpGU and memories of the pleasure of his company. His enthusiasm for his science was both inspiring and infectious and he will be sorely missed.

Masaki Fujimoto and Simon Wallis

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