Professor Emeritus Herbert S. Bridge PhD '50
Professor Emeritus of Physics Herbert S. Bridge PhD '50, an internationally known space scientist who played a key role in mapping the solar winds that flow through interplanetary space, died Aug. 30 following a long illness.
Bridge, who lived in Sudbury, was 76. The cause of death was coronary artery disease, the family said.
Bridge was director of the Center for Space Research and a pioneer in the exploration of the solar system from unmanned spacecraft.
Bridge led a group of MIT physicists who created a novel instrument for the study of interplanetary plasma, the modulated-grid Faraday cup.
This instrument, successfully flown aboard Explorer X in 1961, provided for the first time direct evidence of the existence of a dilute plasma in interplanetary space, as well as supplying some preliminary information onthe density and velocity of this plasma.
After that discovery, Bridge was the principal investigator on space plasma experiments aboard unmanned missions to every planet in the solar system except for Pluto.
The work by Bridge and his collaborators received worldwide recognition, and the MIT group acquired a leading position in the field of plasma measurements in outer space.
Bridge obtained his bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland in 1941. He worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory during World War II.
He received a PhD from MIT in 1950 and worked as a research staff member in the Laboratory for Nuclear Science until 1966, when he was appointed professor of physics.
Bridge served as associate director of the CSR from its inception in 1965 until 1978. That year he was appointed director of the center, a position he held until 1984, when he retired.
Bridge is survived by his wife Jeanne; three children, Raymond Bridge of Boulder, CO, Clare Bridge of York, MT, and Bill Bridge of Thetford, VT; four grandchildren; and two brothers, James of Los Alamos, NM, and Richard of Silver Spring, MD.
A memorial service will be held in the MITChapel at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14.