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George R. Carruthers '61 ENG, MS '62 ENG, PHD '64 ENG

2014 UIAA Alumni Achievement Award

George R. Carruthers '61 ENG, MS '62 ENG, PHD '64 ENG recognized by President Barack Obama with the 2012 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, is honored for his pioneering work as an inventor and astrophysicist of international prominence. Carruthers, who built his first telescope from a cardboard tube and mail-order lens at age 10, led the team that developed the far ultraviolet camera/spectrograph, a revolutionary scientific instrument that was carried to the moon by the Apollo 16 astronauts in 1972. Positioned on the lunar surface, the spectrograph enabled researchers to make readings of and understand objects and elements in space that are invisible to the naked eye, and provided views of far-distant stars and nebulae. The instrument helped Carruthers make one of his most important discoveries—proof of the existence of molecular hydrogen in interstellar space. A second version of the camera was sent on the last manned Skylab flight in 1974 to study the Comet Kohoutek. Carruthers’ later inventions included a camera used on the space shuttle, and instruments that obtained far-UV images of Halley’s Comet and a Leonid meteor shower. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2003.

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