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2007 CESA Gold Medal

A professor in Imperial’s Department of Physics has been awarded the prestigious Gold Medal by the Council of European Aerospace Societies (CEAS) in recognition of the way he has put European space science on the world map.

Professor David Southwood who is also currently Director of Science at the European Space Agency (ESA), was presented with the medal by Sir Colin Terry, Chairman of the CEAS, at the Council’s annual conference in Berlin on 12 September 2007.

At the medal presentation ceremony, Sir Colin cited Professor Southwood’s contributions to European aerospace as the main reason he had been selected for this year’s Gold Medal, which has been awarded every year since 1998. Special mention was made of Professor Southwood’s earlier work at ESA, between 1997 – 2000 when he was head of Earth Observation strategy. During this time he worked to set up the new ‘Living Planet’ project which was realised in 2000 and consisted of a series of spacecraft now in production focused on particular aspects of Earth science. The first four spacecraft being developed will measure and monitor global ice cover, global ocean circulation, soil moisture and ocean salinity, and wind speed throughout the atmosphere.

Commenting on his award, Professor Southwood said:

“I’m extremely proud to have been awarded this medal – I had no idea I’d been nominated! My six years as Director of Science have been a wonderful period, from launching the Integral gamma ray observatory with the Russians, through the dramas and final great scientific harvest of Mars Express, to the landing of Huygens on Titan.
Nobody doubts that with companies like Airbus and Eurocopter, Europe is a world player in aircraft, but these days ‘aerospace’ means aircraft and spacecraft. Space science is going to be increasingly important in the 21st century and I’m delighted to have played a part in strengthening Europe’s position in this field.”

The CEAS is a new grouping of the major national aerospace academic societies of Europe. The UK one is the Royal Aerospace Society and there are eight altogether representing France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Great Britain, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland. It was formerly the Confederation of European Aerospace Societies founded in 1992.