Director Emeritus of the Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie at Mainz, Germany.
Prof. Heinrich Wänke is one of the very first European pioneers in the study of the formation history of the solar system and its inner planets. He developed the powerful tools of geochemistry and applied them to the analysis of samples of solar system objects. He first developed diagnostic tools for the geochemical study of meteorites, leading to a better understanding of the history of irradiation processes and cosmic rays in the solar system, and to important constraints on the identification of parent bodies of meteorites. His works have had important consequences on the determination of the formation scenario of the Moon, and of the accretion history of terrestrial planets. Through his personal works and as director of the Cosmochemistry Division of the Max-Planck-Institute für Chemie in Mainz, he provided major contributions to the development of geochemical techniques for the in-situ analysis of planetary surfaces via space missions, especially Mars. He has played a major role in the development and implementation of the European planetary exploration programme at ESA.
He is a member of the Academia Europaea, of the International Academy of Astronautics and a member or an associate member of several national Academies of Sciences.
Jean-Dominique Cassini Union Medal of the EGU for 2005, for his outstanding contributions to studies of solar system planets, and for his central role in the promotion of geochemistry and cosmochemistry in Europe.
EGS Runcorn-Florensky Medallist - 1999 for his pioneering work in establishing planetary science within the framework of the geosciences and for his authoritative contributions to planetary geochemistry and to the exploration of Planet Mars.
Professor’s Wänke’s scientific works resulted in over 200 scientific publications and owed him world-wide recognition.