Exhibition Traces the Career of Alumnus Merton Davies
An exhibition currently on view in RAND’s Santa Monica Library traces the 50-year career of Merton E. Davies, one of the first members of RAND’s staff. Organized by Brent Bradley in partnership with the RAND Archives, Merton E. Davies: Five Decades of Space Exploration features historical documents and artifacts from a recent donation to the RAND Archives from the Davies family.
The objects on view present an insider's perspective on Davies’s numerous contributions to space research, satellite technology, and planetary photogrammetry—mapping planets through deep-space photography. Included in the display are a clip from the National Enquirer in which Davies is interviewed about space exploration, Davies's personal notebooks (he only used pens with green ink), photographs from his time at RAND, and a set of vintage globes of the moon, Earth, and Mars. Also included is an original copy of Davies’s 1958 publication A Photographic System for Close-Up Lunar Exploration, a working paper that argues for a mode to photograph the moon with cameras attached to space vehicles.
Davies, who joined then–Project RAND in 1947, retired from RAND in 1998. In the late 1960s, he worked under contract with NASA to analyze satellite photographs of Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn for research and possible further exploration. Examples of his NASA contributions are also on view in the exhibit, including an award from NASA for work on the Mariner Venus/Mercury 1973 Project and a publication titled Atlas of Mercury, which documented Mercury’s terrain. His myriad contributions earned him a posthumous namesake on Mars: In 2004, the crater on the prime meridian of the red planet was named in Davies’s honor.
Photo by Sachi Yagyu
Image courtesy of RAND Publications Archive Collection
In addition to the Davies exhibit, a new permanent exhibit of artifacts from the RAND Archives—highlighting RAND’s 70-year history of innovation and contributions to public policy and decisionmaking —is now on display in the pre-Forum area of RAND’s Santa Monica office. It features photos and other objects from the RAND Archives collection, information about current RAND research, and recent donations of important documents and other items from RAND alumni, staff, and their families.
This exhibit will officially open next year in conjunction with RAND's 70th anniversary celebration, and the display will be refreshed periodically. If you think you might have something that should be displayed in RAND's "mini-museum," please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how to contribute.