Awards for our University from the Royal Astronomical Society

A leading academic from our University is to receive a prize this week from the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).

Professor Mark Lester, of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is Chair of the SuperDARN executive council and currently leads the project.

SuperDARN is a network of high frequency radars designed to study the upper atmosphere and its interaction with the solar wind and the lower atmosphere. There are currently 34 radars, with 23 in the northern hemisphere ranging from the polar regions to mid latitudes and encircling the North Pole, and 11 in the Southern Hemisphere also ranging from the pole to mid latitudes. SuperDARN has been operational for over 20 years and our University has run 2 radars, one in Iceland and one in Finland, since 1995. The Leicester team has also built 6 of the other radars currently operating in the network.

Professor Lester said: “I am delighted that the RAS have made this award to the SuperDARN team. It recognises the scientific and technical achievements of over 200 researchers and engineers who contributed to the project. It is a pleasure to work with such a talented team and the project represents the best traditions of international scientific collaboration.”

Also a recipient of an award is Clive Ruggles, Emeritus Professor of Archaeoastronomy in our School of Archaeology and Ancient History.

Professor Ruggles is the first winner of the RAS Agnes Mary Clerke Medal, a new medal introduced this year for outstanding achievement in research into the history of astronomy or geophysics.

Professor Ruggles said: “I am overwhelmed and absolutely delighted at the award of the RAS's new History Medal. Interdisciplinary areas of research are always challenging, especially when they cut across two disciplines as diverse as archaeology and astronomy, but it has been a privilege to work in an emerging field that generates such wide interest, not to mention controversy. This award is quite unexpected and it is a huge honour.”

Each year the RAS recognises significant achievement in the fields of astronomy and geophysics through these awards. The announcements were made at the Ordinary Meeting of the society held on Friday 13 January 2017.

The winners will be invited to collect their awards at the Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Hull.