UK scientist awarded OBE for services to space

4th January 2024
Paige West

A UK scientist instrumental in founding the Gravitational Wave Research Group at the University of Birmingham has been honoured in the New Year Honours, recognising contributions to space science alongside other prominent UK astronomers.

The New Year Honours annually acknowledge the remarkable contributions of individuals across the UK.

Professor Adrian Michael (Mike) Cruise, a key figure in positioning the UK as a leader in space science research, has been acknowledged for his significant work. As Professor Emeritus at the University of Birmingham, his efforts were crucial in the first confirmed detection of gravitational waves in 2015.

Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, commented: “I would like to congratulate Mike on behalf of everyone at the UK Space Agency for this well-deserved award.

“Mike is a distinguished leader in the space science community who has directly contributed to our fundamental understanding of the nature and history of the Universe, through his work on gravitational waves – ripples in space time. In recent years he has also supported the delivery of major UK investments in international space missions such as Ariel and the Rosalind Franklin Mars rover, chaired the UK Space Agency’s Science Programme Advisory Committee, and led the Royal Astronomical Society as its President.

“As an elected member of the European Space Agency’s Voyage 2050 Senior Committee, we will all continue to benefit from Mike’s expertise, as he helps to set the strategic direction for European space science for decades to come.”

Gravitational waves, tiny distortions in space-time often caused by events like black hole mergers, were predicted by Einstein a century ago. Professor Cruise's work was pivotal in their first conclusive detection in 2015 using ground-based observatories.

To delve deeper into gravitational waves, UK and European scientists and engineers are collaborating on the LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) project, a space-based gravitational wave observatory. This European Space Agency mission, planned for launch in the mid-2030s, will feature three spacecraft flying in a triangular formation, interconnected by lasers.

Professor Cruise's work has been instrumental in the UK's significant involvement in this mission.

Professor Mike Cruise said: “It is an unexpected honour to receive this award. The fact that several UK space scientists have been rewarded in the New Year’s Honours list this year is a tribute to the strength of space science and astronomy in the UK, supported by the UK Space Agency and STFC. The space programme will inspire future generations of young scientists and engineers.”

The UK's space science and astronomy fields, home to some of the world’s most skilled professionals, saw multiple honours this year. Recognised alongside Professor Cruise were Dame Maggie Aderin Pocock for her services to Science Education and Diversity, Professor Emma Bunce for her contributions to Astronomy and Science Education, and Professor Philip Diamond for his work in Global Radio Astronomy. The UK Space Agency extends congratulations to all the honourees.

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