Michele Dougherty FRS CBE FRAS, Professor of Space Physics, Head of Department of Physics, Imperial College London.

This lecture is out of this world...hear from a space explorer!

Professor Michele Dougherty CBE FRS FARS was the Principal Investigator (PI) for the magnetometer instrument on the Cassini spacecraft. Prof Dougherty managed a team of about 40 scientists and an operations team to ensure sure they used the data effectively from this instrument.

For more than a decade, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shared the wonders of Saturn and its family of icy moons—taking us to astounding worlds where methane rivers run to a methane sea and where jets of ice and gas are blasting material into space from a liquid water ocean that might harbor the ingredients for life. Cassini revealed in great detail the true wonders of Saturn, a giant world ruled by raging storms and delicate harmonies of gravity.

Cassini carried a passenger to the Saturn system, the European Huygens probe—the first human-made object to land on a world in the distant outer solar system.
After 20 years in space—13 of those years exploring Saturn—Cassini exhausted its fuel supply. And so, to protect moons of Saturn that could have conditions suitable for life, Cassini was sent on a daring final mission that would seal its fate. After a series of nearly two dozen nail-biting dives between the planet and its icy rings, Cassini plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017, returning science data to the very end.
With NASA's Cassini spacecraft now just a blur of molecules in Saturn's cloud tops, another gas giant is rotating into the crosshairs of the planetary exploration community.

Two more Jupiter missions are scheduled to launch in the next few years: NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft, which will study the possibly habitable Jovian moon Europa;and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE), which will investigate the giant planet and three of its four biggest moons (including Europa).

JUICE — ESA's first Jupiter effort — is scheduled to lift off in 2022.

The 1.5-billion-euro ($1.8 billion) mission will get to the solar system's largest planet in 2029. (JUICE will fly aboard an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket, not the superpowerful SLS).

JUICE will study Jupiter's atmosphere and magnetic environment, and it will also investigate three of the planet's Galilean moons: Europa, Callisto and Ganymede. (The fourth Galilean moon — which are so named because they were discovered by Galileo Galilei, in 1610 — is the extraordinarily volcanic Io.)

Scientists think oceans of liquid water slosh beneath the icy shells of all three of these Jovian satellites. JUICE's observations should help researchers characterize these potentially habitable environments and better understand how they came to be, ESA officials have said

Professor Michele Dougherty CBE FRS FRAS.

Professor Michele Dougherty is Professor of Space Physics at Imperial College London.[6][7] 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.

She 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. She left South Africa for a fellowship in Germany, before moving to Imperial College London in 1991. She was appointed a Professor of Space Physics in 2004. She is Head of the Department of Physics at Imperial College London.

She 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. 
Her 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.   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.  

Professor 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!"
Dougherty was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS) in 1995,  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".  

Professor 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.

Professor 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.

Professor Dougherty was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society for geophysics in 2017, the fifth woman ever to receive the honour.[3]

Professor 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.


[Prof Dougherty at Imperial]

[Prof Dougherty at NASA]

[Prof Dougherty on BBC Radio 4]

[Cassini overview from NASA]

[Event poster]