Richard Hills took a leading role in the development of astronomy at submillimetre wavelengths — those lying between the radio and infrared bands. He was Project Scientist for two challenging international projects.
Richard’s first large-scale project, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, opened the submillimetre band for studying molecules in interstellar space and the formation of stars, and is particularly well known for discovering dust-shrouded massive galaxies at high redshifts. Closely involved in its conception and design, construction and comissioning stages, in 1989 he received the Jackson-Gwilt Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society for his outstanding contributions.
From 2007 to 2012, Richard led the scientific team working on the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA), an aperture synthesis telescope in Chile that fuses data from 66 individual dishes to form images equivalent in angular resolution to those from a telescope of up to 15 kilometres in diameter. This instrument is already producing images with unprecedented clarity and sensitivity of objects ranging from asteroids to planet-forming discs around young stars and galaxies in the early Universe.