Astronaut, space scientist, and geophysicist recognised in New Year’s Honours list

The Royal Astronomical Society applauds astronaut Dr Helen Sharman, space scientist Professor Michele Dougherty and geophysicist Professor Kathy Whaler, recognised in the New Year's Honours list for 2018.

Commander of the Order of the British Empire neck decoration (civil division). Credit: Alexeinikolayevichromanov / Wikimedia Commons

Michele Dougherty is Professor of Space Physics at Imperial College London, and receives the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to UK physical science research. She was Principal Investigator of the magnetometer instrument on board the Cassini spacecraft, which explored Saturn and its moons from 2004 until it was directed to burn up in the saturnian atmosphere in September 2017. Professor Dougherty is now the Principal Investigator for the JUpiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft, due to arrive at the giant planet in 2030. She was the fifth woman to receive the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, awarded in 2017.

Helen Sharman was the first UK national to go into space, and is made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) for services to science and technology educational outreach. In 1991 she flew to the Soviet Mir space station as part of a Soyuz mission, spending eight days on board the orbiting outpost. Dr Sharman was selected in a British-Soviet competition, coming first among nearly 13,000 applicants. After her mission she became self-employed as a science communicator, moving to the National Physical Laboratory and then Imperial College London.

Kathy Whaler is Professor of Geophysics at the University of Edinburgh. She is made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to geophysics. In recent years her research has focused on geomagnetic Earth observation from space. Professor Whaler received the Royal Astronomical Society Price Medal in 2013, and was President of the RAS from 2004 to 2006.

Media contacts

Dr Robert Massey
Royal Astronomical Society
Tel: +44 (0)20 7292 3979
Mob: +44 (0)7802 877 699

Dr Morgan Hollis
Royal Astronomical Society
Tel: +44 (0)20 7292 3977
Mob: +44 (0)7802 877 700

Further information

Notes for editors

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 4,000 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.

The RAS accepts papers for its journals based on the principle of peer review, in which fellow experts on the editorial boards accept the paper as worth considering. The Society issues press releases based on a similar principle, but the organisations and scientists concerned have overall responsibility for their content.

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Submitted by Morgan Hollis on Fri, 05/01/2018 - 10:14