Dr. Sherman Shou-Chou Wu Remembered

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Dr. Sherman Shou-Chou Wu, a revered pioneer in the field of planetary photogrammetry and topographic mapping, passed away at the age of 92 on August 22, 2020. He was a long-term employee at Astrogeology Science Center and remembered for his amazing contributions.

Dr. Sherman Shou-Chou Wu Remembered

Dr. Sherman Shou-Chou Wu 

Dr. Wu began his professional career in 1965 with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the Branch of Astrogeology as a photogrammetrist.  For over 30 years he made significant contributions to planetary science by developing a mapping program for NASA which was essential to the planetary exploration program for the Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and their satellites.  The topographic maps and products of this program were critical to planning and executing many of NASA’s space flight missions including Ranger, Lunar Orbiter, Apollo, Mariner 9, Viking, Voyager, SIR-B and the Magellan radar mission to Venus. He advanced in his career at the USGS to become the supervisory physical scientist in charge of the photogrammetry group and is recognized as one of the world’s rare authorities and leader in planetary topographic mapping for which he received the Department of the Interior’s Meritorious Service Medal.

Dr. Jerry Schaber, the Chief of the Branch of Astrogeology during Dr. Wu’s  employment, described him as a good supervisor and one of the best section managers in the Branch.  He relied on Sherman to get the job done with limited funding through his resourcefulness and professional contacts. He said whatever task Sherman undertook, no matter how difficult or complex, he found the necessary resources, support, and personnel to achieve it well. Annie Howington and Jenny Blue, who have fond memories of working for Sherman as students, said that he was always looking out for their careers even though they didn’t realize it at the time.

Although Sherman was always very busy with his work, he always made time to contribute significantly to the planetary community.  In their memories of Sherman, many colleagues described his generosity and give back attitude.  He is well known as the ultimate host by his colleagues, co-workers and friends, and worked tirelessly to bring the planetary community together by organizing numerous national and international scientific and technology conferences. When Dr. Wu received the prestigious Gino Cassinis Award in 2004 which includes a significant honorarium, he promptly doubled it and donated it to the ISPRS Foundation’s Scholarship Fund.

Sherman retired from USGS and continued to do exceptional work in the remote sensing field through the development and application of radar and lidar technologies. Everyone knew that Sherman would not let retirement from the USGS be the end of his passion for working and learning new technologies. The results of Dr. Wu’s extensive research contributions are represented in over 150 published papers in journals and book chapters including the Encyclopedia of Planetary Science, the ASPRS Manual of Photogrammetry, Nature, International Journal of Solar System Studies, and chapters of planetary science by Cambridge University, University of Arizona, ASPRS and ISPRS journals, and NASA’s Lunar and Planetary Science conference proceedings and special publications.