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University of Leicester Professor wins Service Award for Astronomy


A University of Leicester Professor was announced by the Royal Astronomical Society as the winner of the 2016 Service Award for Astronomy on Friday.


Professor Alan Wells from the University of Leicester was commended this award in recognition for his pivotal work in UK Space Science for over 40 years.


The RAS announced the award; medal and prizes winners at the Ordinary Meeting on Friday 8 January, however the winners will later collect their awards at the prestigious Society’s 2016 National Astronomy Meeting in June.


Professor Wells said: “The Royal Astronomical Society’s Service Award is unique in recognising contributions of people who have helped to enable new discoveries in space science and exploration, through the development and operation of new telescopes, instruments and space missions.


“It takes a lot of time and effort to place new world class facilities like these in the hands of the wider astronomical community.


“Our great team of space scientists and engineers at Leicester’s Space Research Centre have been very successful at doing this and I am proud to accept the RAS Service Award for 2016 in recognition of their contributions as well as my own.”


The space researcher joined the University of Leicester in 1973 and during his years there he was Space Projects Manager and Founding Director of the University’s Space Research Centre before retiring.


During the years he has played a crucial role in the proposal, development, design, test, launch and operations of many iconic space science mission instruments and without him the UK and international relations may have been far less likely to see the results of such projects.


He was an integral person in the establishment and continued operation of the National Space Centre and to this day supports its growth.


President of the Royal Astronomical Society and Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester Professor Martin Barstow said that it gives him huge pleasure that the Society marks their achievements with the University’s awards and medals.


“I am delighted to congratulate all the winners and wish them continued success in their scientific careers,” he said.


The Royal Astronomical Society was founded in 1820 and has more than 3900 members including scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as astronomy historians.


Follow the RAS on Twitter via @royalastrosoc or find them online at



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