ALMA Director Receives Instrumentation Award

19 January 2012

The American Astronomical Society has awarded the 2012 Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation to Thijs de Graauw for his leadership in the construction of powerful new astronomical instruments including the Short Wavelength Spectrometer on the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) and the Heterodyne Instrument For the Infrared (HIFI) on the Herschel Space Observatory.

HIFI is a spectrometer placed on the European Space Agency's infrared space observatory Herschel, which was launched in May 2009. HIFI was built to look for water in a variety of celestial objects, to probe stellar environments, and to study the role of gas and dust in the formation of stars and planets, and the evolution of galaxies. Recently, thanks to HIFI, Herschel confirmed that some comets contain water similar to that on Earth, supporting the theory that Earth's water comes from comets. It also discovered cold water vapour in a disk of dust around a young star, providing more information on the role of water in the early formation of planets.

Thijs de Graauw has served as Director of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) since 2008, after also serving as Interim Director for a period during the same year. Before joining ALMA, he worked at the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON), where he was responsible for the infrared and submillimetre research programme. In this capacity he acted as Principal Investigator for HIFI. He was also a professor at Leiden University, and was the Principal Investigator of the successful Short Wavelength Spectrometer (SWS), which flew on ISO, Herschel's predecessor.

More Information

The Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation is awarded by the American Astronomical Society to an individual for the design, invention or significant improvement of instrumentation leading to advances in astronomy.

HIFI was designed and built by a consortium of institutes and university departments from across Europe, Canada and the USA under the leadership of the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON), Groningen, The Netherlands, and with major contributions from Germany, France and the USA.

SWS was built by SRON in collaboration with the the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.

ALMA is a global partnership between Europe, North America and East Asia, in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan. ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.



Mathieu Isidro
ESO, Education and Public Outreach Department
Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6222

About the Announcement



Thijs de Graauw, recipient of the Joseph Weber Award
Thijs de Graauw, recipient of the Joseph Weber Award