December 10, 2010

Piers Sellers Takes RAS Medal On 8 Million Kilometer Trip

After taking it on a journey of almost 8 million km on board the Atlantis space shuttle, on the afternoon of Friday 10 December British-born astronaut Piers Sellers will return the Jackson-Gwilt medal to Professor Roger Davies, the President of the Royal Astronomical Society. After the presentation Dr Sellers will address astronomers and geophysicists at the Society's Ordinary Meeting, speaking about his experiences in space and the value of space exploration in general.

Dr Sellers carried the Medal with him on his latest mission, STS-132, which saw the space shuttle Atlantis launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and travel to the orbiting International Space Station (ISS). Over the course of the mission, Atlantis completed 186 orbits around the Earth and travelled a total distance of 7.85 million km (4.88 million miles).

The RAS Jackson-Gwilt Medal is awarded for outstanding work in areas including achievement in astronomical instrumentation or techniques, so Professor Davies sees it as a fitting passenger on Atlantis.

"The RAS has always been proud to back exceptional individuals in astronomy and space science, often through awards and prizes. Our medals are highly regarded but as far as I know this is the only one that has travelled for millions of kilometres through space. And it's a real pleasure to have Piers Sellers returning the Jackson-Gwilt Medal and then addressing the RAS."

Dr Sellers is delighted to bring the Medal back. "It's a huge pleasure to be here to return the Jackson-Gwilt Medal and to address one of the world's largest astronomical societies. As a scientist and astronaut, I know how much space, astronomy and the wider universe have inspired me throughout my life."


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