Editor's note: I just learned that my long time friend Mel Averner died last night. I will write something more lengthy at some point. Suffice it to say there were two people who taught more more than anyone else while I was at NASA - and after I left. Dick Keefe and Mel Averner. Not a thing happened in NASA's space life science programs in the 80's, 90's and recent years that was not directly or indirectly affected by Dick and Mel. Dick passed away several years ago. Mel was full of life and ideas up to the last moments of his life. I had a chance to speak with him last week. The conversation lasted 9 minutes. Long enough for him to say goodbye to me and for me to do so in exchange. Many of his friends had a chance to do the same. In so doing, Mel left little seeds in our minds - seeds that will continue to affect the way that we look at life on Earth and beyond for decades to come. I hope Mel's friends will take the time to post their thoughts below.
Please follow Astrobiology on Twitter.