Geology professor to debate at American Museum of Natural History

GOLDEN, Colo., March 4, 2008 – Murray Hitzman, Colorado School of Mines Charles F. Fogarty Professor of Economic Geology, has been invited to participate in the 8th Annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on March 13.

The debate, “Mining the sky: The engineering, economics, and ethics of exploiting the Solar System’s natural resources,” will be moderated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium.

The discussion will explore and debate the subject with a panel of experts from the fields of planetary science, aerospace engineering, environmental engineering and space law. Hitzman will serve as an expert in terrestrial mineral exploration and mining.

“The Mining in the Sky debate represents a superb forum to investigate the intersection of the technical and social aspects of mining in a futuristic context — a combination of the traditional with the visionary,” Hitzman said.
The other panelists include:
  • John S. Lewis—Professor, Lunar and Planetary Lab, University of Arizona; expert in Cosmochemistry planetary atmospheres
  • Cassie Conley—Acting Planetary Protection Officer, NASA Headquarters; expert in international guidelines to prevent biological contamination while exploring the solar system
  • Henry R. Hertzfeld—Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University; expert on legal and economic issues of space and high technology industries
  • Curtis Manning—Engineer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, expert in the technology of converting space materials into usable hardware

Hitzman currently serves as chair of the National Research Council’s Committee on Earth Resources and is a member of the NRC Board on Earth Sciences and Resources. He worked in Washington, D.C., as the Geological Society of America Congressional Fellow in the office of Senator Joseph Lieberman from 1993-94 and as a policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 1994-96. 

He has published extensively on the geology of mineral deposits and on natural resource policy issues and is a lead researcher in a joint U.S.-Australian team who are reexamining the geology and mineral deposits of the Central African Copperbelt in Zambia and the Congo, one of the world’s richest sources of metals.

Founded in 1874, Colorado School of Mines was established to serve the needs of the local mining industry. Today, the School has an international reputation for excellence in both engineering education and the applied sciences with special expertise in the development and stewardship of the Earth's resources. For more information about Colorado School of Mines, visit

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