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No 63 - July 2010

NASA honours Edinburgh astronomer

NASA's Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal is awarded to individuals for technology contributions achieved in one of the following areas: early technology development significantly contributing to NASA's mission, exemplary collaborative effort in achieving significant technology transfer, or exceptional utilisation of a NASA-developed technology resulting in a significant commercial application. These are the highest awards given by NASA. This medal has now been awarded to the late Dr Tim Hawarden for his pioneering work on passive radiative cooling of infrared space telescopes.

Hawarden graduated from the University of Natal in 1966 with a BSc in physics and applied mathematics, followed by an MSc and PhD in astronomy from the University of Cape Town in 1970 and 1975 resp. Having worked at the Royal Observatory at the Cape and the South African Astronomical Observatory, he moved to the UK Schmidt Telescope in Australia. From there he went on to the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, where he would work for the UKIRT infrared telescope in Hawaii, as head of the Edinburgh UKIRT unit, as support astronomer in Hawaii, as project scientist for the UKIRT Upgrades Programme, and back to Hawaii as head of UKIRT Development. In 2001, he finally returned to Edinburgh to work on the next generation of ground-based telescopes like the E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope). Hawarden retired in 2006 and died in 2009, only a few months before the NASA award was made.

Dr Hawarden also worked on the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO). Later, he was the instigator of passive radiation cooling. "This was breakthrough stuff and although Tim met initial severe resistance from the engineering establishment, typically he persevered and showed through detailed calculation that his ideas were sound. He soon gathered a strong following from fellow astronomers and eventually this idea was accepted and widely adopted. Tim's legacy can be seen in missions as diverse as the Herschel Telescope, launched in June 2009, through to the James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble successor to be launched in 2014." [1]

  1. Ian Robson (2009). "Dr Tim Hawarden". Obituary.
  2. "Posthumous award from NASA". ROE press release, 2010-05-12.

Horst Meyerdierks


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Insights into gravitation on Earth

NASA honours Edinburgh astronomer

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