- NASA Watch
- December 4, 2023
Reader note: It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the passing of John F. Lindsay at the age of 67. John, who was a visiting scientist on the staff of the Lunar and Planetary Institute, died early this morning after a valiant battle against cancer.
John’s education was in soft-rock geology with a solid background in chemistry, physics, mathematics, and statistics, earning his B.Sc. (with Honors) and M.Sc. degrees from the University of New England in New South Wales, Australia, and his Ph.D. in geology from Ohio State University in 1968. One of the original scientists at the Institute in the early 1970s, John’s professional background also included positions as Research Scientist at the Marine Science Institute of the University of Texas; Program Manager at Exxon Production Research; Adjunct Professor at Oxford University, and NRC Senior Research Associate at the Astrobiology Institute at NASA Johnson Space Center, where John worked closely with David McKay and his group.
Much of John’s recent work involved research into the origins of life, especially around ancient and modern hydrothermal systems as universal analogs for planetary environments. John’s work suggested that the assumption that life on Earth developed early, and that all record of the prebiotic-biotic boundary may have been lost, may be incorrect. John came to the conclusion that the early Archean record on Earth provides many parallels with early Mars and is likely to provide a good analog to help plan for the search for life beyond Earth. In the past year, John had worked on lunar dust hazards and mitigation, and had just finished a paper on Archaen concretions and their implications for life. Unfinished projects include a textbook in astrobiology and a major paper on the Warrawoona group of Australia, which includes the oldest sedimentary rocks on Earth.
John received many awards and honors during his career, including the NASA Achievement Award for Work in the Apollo Lunar Program, the U.S. Polar Medal for Antarctic Service, and the Australian Institute of Cartographers award for cartographic excellence.
While John will be remembered for his scientific contributions, he will most fondly be remembered for his gentle and kind personality. With never a cross word, and always a smile and a warm greeting for everyone he ran across, John’s passing will leave a tremendous hole in the hearts of his friends and colleagues.
To his son, Matthew, and other family members and friends, we extend our deepest sympathy. We’ll miss you, John!