The eXoplanetary Research Institute (XRI)

Cassandra Maridian, In Memoriam

Cassandra once said to me, "We've done enough dreaming of worlds beyond our own. It's time we let those dreams take us to those worlds." It was thus that the Extrasolar Project — in fact, the whole driving ideal of XRI — was born.

Cassandra was a friend, a confidant, and a partner. A brilliant quantum physicist and wonderful human being, it was her urgings that led me to form the eXoplanetary Research Institute, her dream to see us where we are now. Without her, I'm not sure I could have succeeded at creating QUIC-BIT, and I would never have gotten the chance to do any of the rest.

Her work was her passion. As a graduate student, she spent weeks at the Arecibo observatory, staring up at the stars. When the first extrasolar planets were confirmed in 1995, she immediately began working with a team of astronomers to discover more, and was part of the team to announce the existence of Epsilon Eridani b in 2000. Sure, she enjoyed things like hikes through the mountains (the better to see the sky), and she played the cello like an artist, but it was always the sky that was on her mind — the sky, and the discoveries it represented.

And Cassandra was relentless in her work. When a mystery needed answering, she delved deep into her research, not resting until she was satisfied. She always asked the tough questions, and refused to take the easy answers — and she refused to let me have them. She kept me honest.

Cassandra passed away in her home on April 14th, 2010, from an unexpected heart attack. She will be sorely missed by all of us at XRI, but especially by me. I wish you could have seen us land on Epsilon Eridani e, Cass. Everything we do is in your name.

— Gordon Cavendish