Prof. Dr Reimar Lüst was the third Director General of ESA, serving from 1984 until 1990.
Prof. Lüst was born on 25 March 1923 in Wuppertal-Barmen, Germany. He began his studies in 1933 at the Humanistisches Gymnasium in Kassel, until these were interrupted by military service with the German navy in 1941. He served on submarines (Lt. Ing.) and became a prisoner-of-war in England and USA between 1943-46.
He resumed his studies in 1946 and was awarded a Diploma in Physics from the University of Frankfurt/Main in 1949, and a Doctorate in 1951 from the University of Göttingen.
In 1951, Lüst became Fellow and assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Physics, Göttingen, and was a Fulbright Fellow at the Enrico Fermi Institute of the University of Chicago and at Princeton University in 1955-56.
Then followed many distinguished academic positions, at the University of Munich, the University of New York, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.
Prof. Lüst was involved with European space science administration from the very first days of the ‘Commission préparatoire européenne de recherches spatiales’ (COPERS). First as Secretary of the Scientific and Technical Working Group, then as Scientific Director of the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) from 1962 to 1964, he helped to draw up the scientific programme for ESRO.
After a break at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, and the University of Munich, he became Vice President of ESRO in 1968-70. He was appointed Chairman of the German Science Council (Wissenschaftsrat) 1969-72.
Before joining ESA in 1984, Prof. Lüst was President of the Max Planck Society. Since leaving ESA, he has held a number of senior positions: President (then Honorary President) of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Bonn, Professor at the University of Hamburg, then Chairman and Honorary Chairman (2005) of the Board of Governors, International University, Bremen.
Prof. Lüst's research career has made contributions to our knowledge of the origins of our planetary system, solar physics, the physics of cosmic rays, plasma physics, hydrodynamics and to the physics of nuclear fusion. He was also closely involved the first ESRO sounding rocket launches and satellites to study the upper atmosphere and the planetary medium. He directed experiments on the ESRO-IV and HEOS-A satellites, and was an experiment group leader for the COS-B satellite.
The planetoid 4836 was named 'Lüst', an in 1995 Prof. Lüst received the Adenauer-de Gaulle Prize and the Weizman Award for Science and Humanities. He was also awarded the title of Officer of the French Légion d’Honneur and holds the Grand Federal Cross of Merit of the German Republic.
Prof. Lüst passed away on 31 March 2020 aged 97.