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Introduction

Carl Edward Sagan was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 9, 1934. Mr. Sagan was a renowned author, astronomer, and an astrochemist. Although he was most commonly known for his numerous books and a variety of TV appearances, these were by no means his greatest achievements. During his third marriage to his wife Ann Druyan, he wrote his last book, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark", in which he collaborated with Ann, his equal in expression. For the majority of his adult life, Sagan used marijuana and believed that it gave him many of his best ideas. He also received twenty honorary degrees from colleges and universities for his contributions to science, education, literature, and for the preservation of the environment. However, his greatest award for his achievements and possibly the most commonly known was when he won the Pulitzer Prize, a United States award classified into twenty-one categories given yearly to those who have published reports and photographs by United-States-based newspapers or daily news organizations for achievements in newspaper journalism, literature, and music composition.

Contributions

Carl Sagan acted as a consultant to NASA where he played a very influential role in several space missions. He was involved with the Mariner, Viking, Voyager and Galileo missions where he aided in the uncovering of many mysteries of space and planets. His discoveries included a colossal greenhouse effect which was determined to be the source of extreme temperatures on Venus.
He had received many awards for his contributions, for example, Dr. Sagan received the NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and for Distinguished Public Service twice, as well as the NASA Apollo Achievement Award.
He served on the board as the Chairman of both the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society and the Astronomy Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was also the President of the Planetology Section for the American Geophysical Union.
In 1980, Dr. Sagan along with Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman co-founded The Planetary Society which is the largest space-interest group in the world and dedicated to the exploration of the Solar System. Today, the society enjoys a membership of over 100,000 including Steven Spielberg, Buzz Aldrin and Ray Bradbury.
Sagan’s devotion to planetary science touched many people over his lifetime. He was an inspiration to people everywhere and encouraged minds to be opened and created a surge of discovery through teaching others about the magnificent solar system we live in.


Later In Years
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Most of the world will remember Carl Sagan for his remarkable series of books, TV appearances, the TV series “Cosmos” which aired in the late 1970s. The movie “Contact” also proved to be a significant source of publicity for Dr. Sagan. Throughout his more than 40-years of work, Sagan published over 300 scientific papers, many of which are landmarks even today. There are very few scientists that have ever matched that.
In 1982, with the help of Jim Pollack and Brian Toon, Sagan realized that smoke from petrochemical fires would have a profound effect on global climate. Despite the research their theories were disproved in 1991 when Iraq set the nations oil fields on fire, blackening the sky over most of Kuwait. There were no climatic effects observed. This ultimately would lead to him receiving less than fifty percent of the yes votes required for his membership to the National Academy of Sciences. He later received the Public Welfare Medal from the Academy but the damage was already done. In 1993 his book on nuclear winter, which he co-wrote with Rich Turco, sold only a few thousand copies. Sagan’s book “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”, which many considered to be one of his best works, co-written with his third wife never received the enthusiasm he expected. It seemed that Carl Sagan was slipping from the public eye.
For much of his adult life, Sagan used marijuana and believed that it gave him many of his best ideas. His last book, which encompassed a remarkable series of essays called “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”, was published in 1996, the same year of his death. Many felt this to be Sagan’s most mature and valuable publication.