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Baerbel Koesters Lucchitta

Dr. Baerbel Lucchitta was one of the first women in the field of Astrogeology. She started her career by mapping the Moon and instructing the Apollo Astronauts.

She worked extensively on the Valles Marineris canyons on Mars, is a vigorous protagonist of glacial flow and other ice-related features on Mars, and was awarded the Geological Society of America, Planetary Geology Division, G.K. Gilbert Award in 1995. She was the first woman to receive this award. Baerbel was an early role model for women, as in the beginning of this relatively young field of science and for many years to follow, she was among the very few female Planetary Geologists.

Baerbel Koesters was born on October 2, 1938, in Münster, Germany. She is the second child of Bernhard and Fridel Koesters. For the birth, her mother traveled from the family residence near the French border to the more centrally located city of Münster, as Baerbel's paternal grandfather was a doctor in that town and the Munich Accords, negotiated at that time, raised fear of war. Afterwards, the family returned to their home, eventually in eastern Germany. Baerbel has a brother, one year older (now living in the Canary Islands, Spain), and a sister, 3.5 years younger (now in Kelowna, Canada).

The children spent their early childhood in Weimar, not far from infamous Buchenwald, during the waning days of World War II. Baerbel attended elementary school for about one week in 1944, until the school was bombed out. She suffered through the heavy bombardment of German cities at the end of Word War II, hiding, terrified, in a vaulted coal cellar. Eventually, American forces advanced on the Weimar area. The family evacuated in fear that the city would be leveled; they traveled on the same road as the inmates of Buchenwald, who were forced to leave and return to the camp when Russian armies advanced from the east. During most of this time, Baerbel's father was first a conscripted soldier and then a prisoner of war in England. After the Yalta agreement, Weimar was occupied by the Russian army. One year later, Fridel Koesters decided to escape confinement behind the Iron Curtain and fled to the west, taking the children to bombed-out Münster to live with Baerbel's grandparents. After his release from England in 1947, Bernhard Koesters rejoined his family and resumed his career as an architect in Münster. Baerbel's mother died in 1987, her father died in 2003.

As a child, Baerbel remembers becoming interested in geologic processes more than in the rocks themselves. On vacations with her mother to Swabia in southern Germany, she noticed that the Jura Cliffs were full of Jurassic marine fossils, but was bothered by the marine fossils being contained in the now dry cliffs. She wondered how these animals and marine rocks got so high and so far out of the sea. She also remembers being very puzzled as to how the low-lying Rhine River could have cut a narrow slot through the mountain range that harbors the massive Lorelei Rock. She was a tomboy who competed with her older brother, but also loved to sit alone and read.

In Münster, she attended a Catholic all-girl, public

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