William K. Hartmann is a noted astronomer, author and artist. He is senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson. He was an investigator on the Mariner 9 Mars probe which mapped the Red Planet for the first time in 1972. An asteroid (#3341) is named for him.
He has written and illustrated several widely-used textbooks on astronomy, and also co-authored and co-illustrated five pictoral books of space art, The Grand Tour, Cycles of Fire, Out of the Cradle,The History of Earth, and In The Stream of Stars:The Soviet-American Space Art Book.
He has recently written his first critically-acclaimed science fiction novel Mars Underground. His paintings are on display in collections in the U.S, Russia, France, and Italy, and have been on exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum.
Dr. Hartmann's field of study concentrates on small bodies (comets, asteroids) as well as the morphology of meteoric impacts on solid bodies. His Ph.D thesis speculated that Earth's moon was spun off Earth by a huge impact, a theory which was roundly criticized. It has now become the accepted theory of lunar origin.