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Royal Society announces an award in commemoration of Professor Colin Pillinger CBE FRS

18 November 2014

This week the Royal Society announces the Colin Pillinger International Exchanges Award in commemoration of the scientific contribution of Professor Colin Pillinger CBE FRS.

The Colin Pillinger International Exchanges Award, which opens in December, will stimulate new collaborations between leading scientists in the UK and overseas. Researchers taking part in the scheme will be supported in visiting overseas scientists, sparking scientific collaborations with researchers from across the globe.

Professor Colin Pillinger CBE FRS was formerly the Head of Planetary and Space Sciences, Open University, and Principal Investigator for the Beagle 2 lander of the Mars Express mission. His research career started with analysis of the Apollo lunar samples.

Professor Pillinger played a leading role in ESA's Rosetta mission, which landed its Philae lander on the surface of the 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet last week. As it expands our knowledge of the Solar System, Philae is carrying on board a scientific instrument that was proposed by Professor Colin Pillinger. Ptolemy, a gas chromatography mass spectrometry instrument, analyses samples from the comet and collects data about its composition.

"Colin Pillinger was an outstanding scientist, who strove to expand our scientific horizons with his love of planetary science. He was widely known for his role as principal investigator in the Beagle 2 mission which attempted to land a craft on Mars and captured the nation’s imagination.

"This week, as ESA’s Rosetta space probe successfully dropped its Philae lander onto the surface of a comet, we are delighted to announce the Colin Pillinger International Exchanges Award," said Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society.

In special commemoration of Professor Colin Pillinger’s enthusiasm for sharing his passion for science, participants in the scheme may also receive additional funding to communicate their research to the public. Professor Colin Pillinger’s own excellence in communicating with the public about science was recognised by the award of the Michael Faraday Prize Lecture in 2012, which he gave to an enraptured audience.

The Colin Pillinger International Exchanges Award was made possible with thanks to family and friends of Colin Pillinger. It opens for applications on 12 December 2014.