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Index – Tech-Science – Caroli Ziggo, a dead space explorer

Caroli Zygo, physicist, prominent figure in galactic space research, physician of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA), professor emeritus at the Wigner Center for Physics Research (FK) and member of the Scientific Council for Space Science, died at the age of 78. Károly Szeg died unexpectedly on January 22. The Wigner Center for Physical Research considers the scientist dead.

Károly Szegő began his career as a theoretical particle physicist, applying the methods of group theory. His interest turned to space physics in the early 1980s, particularly to study the surface of comets, surface processes, and the interaction of the solar wind and comets.

He was co-chair of the Soviet space mission VEGA (1986), which was launched with international participation to identify Halley’s Comet. On the occasion of this research, for the first time in human history, an image of a comet’s core was taken, the size of the comet’s core and its rotation were determined, and the surface activity of the comet was modeled.

Four of his 1980-1987 papers were among the seven most cited in the world for solar system research. His achievements were recognized with the State Prize in 1986.

He later worked as a visiting researcher on NASA’s Pioneer-Venus Orbiter mission, where he participated as a research associate in the plasma physics experiments of the Phobos-2 mission launched in 1988 to study Mars. He achieved important results in the study of the planet Venus. He was a research associate in the Plasma Physics Experiments for NASA’s Cassini mission to study Saturn, and then in the Plasma Physics Experiment for the ESA Rosetta mission. In recent years, he participated in the SERENA plasma experiment of the ESA BepiColombo mission, which was sent to the planet Mercury.

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Károly Szegő was the first Director of the MTA KFKI Research Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics, founded in 1975, until 2002. Between 2002 and 2010, he organized and supported the work of the Academic Research Network as Head of the Research Development and Innovation Department at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and then as Head of the Research Development Department and innovation.

(Cover photo: Caroly Ziggo, November 25, 2002. Photo: Máté Nándorfi/MTI)

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