Michael David Hicks of Sunland, California, astronomer, artist and father, passed away Sunday July 30, 2023, at 59 years of age. Born in Dayton, Ohio, Michael earned degrees from Boston University and a PhD in Lunar and Planetary Science at the University of Arizona followed by long career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. His research did much to advance the scientific knowledge of comets and asteroids. Michael authored and co-authored numerous articles for The Planetary Science Journal, The Nature Journal, The Astronomer’s Telegraph, and for the Lunar and Planetary Institute. He received many awards for his work over his career, as a team member on the NASA Redirect Mission Concept Development Project, the Near Earth NASA Tracking (NEAT) Team, the NASA Dawn Science Team and the NASA Deep Space 1 Comet Team.
Michael’s passion for science was coupled with a deep appreciation of art. He pursued projects in visual media, from woodblock prints to oil painting to metalwork, he played the ukulele, and loved the writings of Hunter S. Thompson.
As a father, Michael stressed the importance of developing both intellect and compassion, passing on to his daughter the motto “head and heart.”
A lover of the Muppets and Wallace and Gromit, Michael’s whimsy and sweetness will be missed. He is preceded in death by his mother Joan and his infant brother Brian, and survived by his father Richard, daughter Julia, ex-wife Brunella, and siblings Richard, Stephen, Suzette, Jeanette, Paul, and Barbara.
A memorial service will be held Saturday September 30, 2023, 11:00am at the Will and Ariel Durant Library Community Room, 7140 W. Sunset Blvd LA, CA 90046. Donations in Michael’s memory can be made to al-anon.org.
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