Born on 1 October 1939 in Cincinnati, Ohio, George Carruthers is a physicist, space scientist, and inventor who has made significant contributions to both astrophysics research and science education and outreach. Carruthers developed an early interest in science and by the time he was 10 had built his own telescope from cardboard tubing and mail-order lenses. Carruthers studied at the University of Illinois, earning his BS and MS degrees in physics in 1961 and 1962 and his PhD in aeronautical and astronomical engineering in 1964. That same year Carruthers took a job in rocket astronomy at the Naval Research Laboratory, where he would remain for the rest of his career. There he led the team that invented the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph used for the Apollo 16 Moon mission in 1972. Using similar instruments, Carruthers made the first detection of molecular hydrogen in space and imaged Halley’s comet in UV. Over the years, Carruthers has actively promoted science and technology to young people, particularly African Americans, by visiting primary and secondary schools in the Washington, DC, area. He has received many honors and awards, including the Arthur S. Flemming Award in 1970, the Exceptional Achievement Scientific Award from NASA in 1972, and the Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy in 1973. He was named Black Engineer of the Year in 1987 and inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2012 Carruthers received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama. (Photo credit: US Naval Research Laboratory)
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1 October 2018
The scientist’s imaging instruments have been used on sounding rockets, the space shuttle, and even the Moon.
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