Asteroid named for University of Texas at Austin aerospace engineering professor

Feb. 18, 2003

AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. Ivo Babuska, a University of Texas at Austin professor of aerospace engineering, has been honored by having an asteroid named for him.

Number 36060, a three-plus-mile-diameter planetoid that orbits the sun every 4.17 years, is now officially known as 36060 Babuska. An inhabitant of the great asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the asteroid was discovered in 1999 by personnel at Ondrejov Observatory in the Czech Republic. An object the size of 36060 Babuska is typically detected by telescopes designed for that purpose. Discoverers of astronomical objects may suggest names for them, pending a review and approval process by The International Astronomical Union (IAU), which oversees the cataloging of all celestial bodies.

"Three hundred years from now, when I'm dead, it will still be orbiting," he said.

The IAU lauded Babuska for his contributions to the field of applied mathematics, including "groundbreaking results in the numerical solution of differential equations," more than 10 monographs and the founding of the journal "Applications of Mathematics." 

"He is certainly a star in his field, so the naming of celestial objects for him is very appropriate," said Dr. David Dolling, chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics.

Babuska learned of the honor at last month's International Conference on Mathematical and Computer Modeling in Science and Engineering in Prague, where he presented an invited paper.

He was the recipient of another unusual honor in 2001, when the Czech Republic's largest newspaper, Mlada Fronta Dnes, cited his 1926 birth in Prague as a major historical event for that city.

He conducts his research through the University of Texas at Austin-based Texas Institute for Computational and Applied Mathematics. He holds the Robert B. Trull Chair in Engineering.

Babuska is the second University of Texas at Austin aerospace engineer honored with an asteroid namesake. Asteroid 3368 was discovered on August 22, 1985 and was later named in honor of retired Aerospace Engineering Professor Ray Duncombe on his 70th birthday.

For more information contact: Becky Rische, College of Engineering, 512-471-7272.