Michele Dougherty addressing the April 2015 meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society
Michele Karen Dougherty
1962 (age 56–57)
|Alma mater||University of Natal (PhD)|
|Known for||Magnetometer instrumentation for the Cassini-Huygens mission|
|Institutions||Imperial College London|
Michele Karen Dougherty FRS CBE FRAS (born 1962) is a Professor of Space Physics at Imperial College London. She is leading unmanned exploratory missions to Saturn and Jupiter and is Principal Investigator for J-MAG - a magnetometer for the JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) of the European Space Agencies (ESA) due for launch June 2022.
Early life and education
Michele Dougherty became interested in outer space when she was ten years old, when her father built a 10-inch telescope through which she saw the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Dougherty was educated at the University of Natal where she was awarded a PhD in 1989 for research on wave-particle interactions in dispersive and anisotropic media.
Dougherty left South Africa for a fellowship in Germany, working on applied mathematics, before moving to Imperial College London in 1991. She was appointed a Professor of Space Physics in 2004 and teachers undergraduates alongside her research. She is Head of the Department of Physics at Imperial College London.
Dougherty is the Principal Investigator for two major space missions; the NASA Cassini spacecraft that orbited Saturn and the ESA JUICE spacecraft that will orbit Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede.
Dougherty's work led to the discovery of an atmosphere containing water and hydrocarbons around Saturn’s moon Enceladus — opening up new possibilities in the search for extraterrestrial life.
Dougherty is distinguished[by whom?] "for her scientific leadership of the international NASA-ESA-ASI Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and its moons". As Principal Investigator of the operation, data collection and analysis of observations from the magnetic field instrument on board the Cassini spacecraft, she strongly contributed to improve our understanding of Saturn and the Moons of Saturn. Dougherty cites the flybys of Saturn's moons as a highlight of her career; convincing the NASA spacecraft team to make a closer than usual approach “I watched the data coming back with my heart in my mouth because if we had messed up no one would have ever believed me again!".
Before working on the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, Dougherty was involved in the magnetometer team for the Jupiter analysis of the Ulysses mission. She was also Guest Investigator on the NASA Jupiter System Data Analysis Program as part of the Galileo unmanned spacecraft.
Awards and honours
In 2007 she won the Chree Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics for "her contributions to the field of planetary magnetic fields and atmospheres and their interactions with the solar wind".
Dougherty won the 2008 Hughes Medal of the Royal Society "for innovative use of magnetic field data that led to discovery of an atmosphere around one of Saturn's moons and the way it revolutionised our view of the role of planetary moons in the Solar System". She was the second woman ever to receive such an accolade, 102 years after Hertha Ayrton in 1906.
Dougherty was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2012 and was recognized by the UK Science Council as one of the 100 top UK living scientists. She was awarded a prestigious Royal Society Research Professorship in 2014.
Dougherty has contributed significantly to the UK space sector, and chaired the Science Programme Advisory Committee of the UK Space Agency between 2014 and 2016. She was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2018 New Year Honours for "services to UK Physical Science Research". Dougherty won the 2018 Richard Glazebrook Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics.
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The Cassini mission into deep space has sent back some wonderful colour images of Saturn. It's witnessed raging storms, flown between its enigmatic rings and revealed seven new moons. And, thanks in no small part to Professor Michelle Dougherty - it's made some astonishing discoveries.
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- Crary, F. J.; Clarke, J. T.; Dougherty, M. K.; Hanlon, P. G.; Hansen, K. C.; Steinberg, J. T.; Barraclough, B. L.; Coates, A. J.; Gérard, J.-C.; Grodent, D.; Kurth, W. S.; Mitchell, D. G.; Rymer, A. M.; Young, D. T. (2005). "Solar wind dynamic pressure and electric field as the main factors controlling Saturn's aurorae". Nature. 433 (7027): 720–722. Bibcode:2005Natur.433..720C. doi:10.1038/nature03333.
- Bunce, E. J.; Arridge, C. S.; Clarke, J. T.; Coates, A. J.; Cowley, S. W. H.; Dougherty, M. K.; Gérard, J.-C.; Grodent, D.; Hansen, K. C.; Nichols, J. D.; Southwood, D. J.; Talboys, D. L. (2008). "Origin of Saturn's aurora: Simultaneous observations by Cassini and the Hubble Space Telescope" (PDF). Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics. 113 (A9): n/a–n/a. Bibcode:2008JGRA..113.9209B. doi:10.1029/2008JA013257. ISSN 0148-0227.
- Espinosa, Stéphane A.; Dougherty, Michele K. (2000). "Periodic perturbations in Saturn's magnetic field". Geophysical Research Letters. 27 (17): 2785–2788. Bibcode:2000GeoRL..27.2785E. doi:10.1029/2000GL000048.
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