Michael Perryman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Michael Perryman
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
Known for
Scientific career
FieldsAstronomy, Astrometry

Michael Perryman is a British astronomer, known for his work leading the Hipparcos and Gaia space astrometric projects.


Michael Perryman studied theoretical physics at Cambridge University and received his doctorate from the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, in 1979.


He joined the ESA in 1980, where he headed the Hipparcos astrometric project as Project Scientist from 1981 till 1997. After the satellite failed to reach its target geostationary orbit, he also took over the mission management, the project eventually recovering all and more of its original scientific objectives.[1]


In 1993, together with Lennart Lindegren, he jointly proposed a more ambitious astrometric mission to take advantage of technological advances such as CCDs (unavailable for Hipparcos) and large lightweight mirrors.[2] In 1995, Perryman was named study scientist for the new mission concept, named Gaia. The mission was approved by ESA's Science Programme Committee in 2000 and Perryman appointed project scientist. He led the Gaia project till the Critical Design Review in 2008, establishing the payload concept, technical feasibility, operational and data analysis principles, its organisation structure, and coordinating its scientific case, leading to its successful launch in 2013.[3]


He was Professor of Astronomy[4] at Leiden University from 1993 to 2009. In 2010, he held a joint position at Heidelberg University and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, and since 2012 he has been adjunct professor at University College Dublin. He was Bohdan Paczynski visiting professor at Princeton in 2013.[5]


The main belt asteroid 10969 Perryman has been named in recognition of his contributions to astrometry.[6] In 1999 Perryman was awarded the Academy Medal by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[7] In 2011 he was awarded the Tycho Brahe Prize of the European Astronomical Society for his crucial role in the fostering of high precision, global stellar astrometry from space, in particular the development of the Hipparcos mission.[8] In 2022 he received the Shaw Prize in Astronomy jointly with Lennart Lindegren.[9]


  1. ^ "Michael Perryman Mapping the stars with maths". ESA. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  2. ^ Lindegren, L; Perryman, M. A.C (1996). "GAIA: Global astrometric interferometer for astrophysics". Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement Series. 116 (3): 579. Bibcode:1996A&AS..116..579L. doi:10.1051/aas:1996136.
  3. ^ Perryman, M. A. C; De Boer, K. S; Gilmore, G; Høg, E; Lattanzi, M. G; Lindegren, L; Luri, X; Mignard, F; Pace, O; De Zeeuw, P. T (2001). "GAIA: Composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 369: 339–363. arXiv:astro-ph/0101235. Bibcode:2001A&A...369..339P. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20010085. S2CID 28973535.
  4. ^ "'HIPPARCOS AND THE HR DIAGRAM". Royal Astronomical Society. February 1997. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Michael Perryman". Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  6. ^ "JPL Small-Body Database Browser". NASA.
  7. ^ "Laureates Academy Medal". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 24 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Tycho Brahe Prize to Prof. Michael Perryman" (PDF). European Astronomical Society Press Release. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  9. ^ Shaw Prize 2022