The University of Arizona

U. B. MARVIN: Oral histories in meteorites and planetary science: XI. Masatake Honda

U. B. Marvin


Masatake Honda majored in inorganic chemistry at the University of Tokyo and then pursued graduate studies in geochemistry. In 1943, he completed his first research project, which yielded new data on the behavior of strontium in carbonates. He then spent the next two years as a technical officer in the Japanese Imperial Navy. While on duty, he gained expertise in the important new field of ion exchange methods, which he ultimately chose as the topic for his Ph.D. thesis and then expanded into a book. In 1955, Honda traveled to Switzerland and spent a year in research laboratories at Bern and Zrich. He then joined Professor James R. Arnold at Princeton University and soon began focusing his research on cosmic-ray produced nuclides in meteorites. Two years later, he accompanied Dr. Arnold to the University of California at La Jolla where they joined the research group of Professor Harold C. Urey. Honda developed techniques for measuring terrestrial ages of meteorites and showed that most of them have survived weathering for vastly longer periods than had been anticipated. After spending nearly eight years abroad, he returned to Japan in 1962 as a full professor at the University of Tokyo. During the Apollo missions, he performed research on cosmogenic nuclides in lunar rocks, surface soils, and deep drill cores. In the same period, he studied terrestrial histories of numerous Antarctic meteorites. In 1992, he retired from his professorship but he continues to carry on his research and to publish papers. In 1987, the Meteoritical Society presented its Leonard Medal to Masatake Honda for his pioneering work in establishing the abundances and production rates of stable, long-lived, and short-lived nuclides by cosmic irradiation of meteorites and lunar samples.


Masatake Honda

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