The Birkeland Lecture 2017
Location: Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Oslo
15 June 2017 at 18:30
Professor David Southwood, former director of the European Space Agency (ESA) will give this year's Birkeland Lecture: "Kristian Birkeland and the slow dawn of the space weather understanding"
PROFESSOR DAVID SOUTHWOOD
Imperial College,London, UK
David, a planetary scientist, has an abiding interest in the aurora and in the history of solar terrestrial physics. He knows Norway well and has often lectured on cruise ships sailing to northern Norway to see the northern lights.
He is chairman of the Steering Board of the UK Space Agency and Senior Research Investigator at Imperial College. He had an academic career as a space scientist in Britain and USA, eventually becoming head of Physics at Imperial College, London.
In 1997, he left academia for the European Space Agency to draw up what has become the current architecture of European Earth Observation space programmes (Living Planet and Copernicus).
In 2001 he made another major change in career and became Director of Science at ESA, taking responsibility for all Astronomy and Space science missions, overseeing projects as diverse as Mars Express, the Rosetta comet probe and the Herschel infra-red observatory. Later, Robotic Exploration was added to his responsibilities.
He retired from ESA in 2011, returned to an emeritus position at Imperial College in London and to join the Steering Board of the new UK Space Agency, becoming chair in 2016. He is a past president of the Royal Astronomical Society (2012-2014), a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and a visiting professor at the Universities of Plymouth and Lancaster, and a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA.
He is vice-chair of the EU Horizon 2020 Space Expert Advisory Group and patron of the British Science Fiction Foundation. He comes from Devon in the South West of England where he is patron of Plymouth Astronomical Society, honorary president of the Bristol Astronomical Society and a trustee of the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science.
David himself remains an active space scientist. A space magnetometer he built at Imperial and that was launched in 1997 still operates day in day out in orbit around the planet Saturn aboard the NASA Cassini spacecraft.