The Planck team, which includes researchers from UCL Physics & Astronomy and the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), has been awarded the 2018 Gruber Cosmology Prize.

The Cosmology Prize honours leading cosmologists, astronomers, astrophysicists or scientific philosophers for theoretical, analytical, conceptual or observational discoveries leading to fundamental advances in our understanding of the Universe.

The Planck Team, part of an international collaboration organized by the European Space Agency (ESA), mapped the temperature and polarization of the cosmic microwave background radiation, the relic radiation of the big bang, with the ESA Planck satellite.

UCL researchers Prof. Hiranya Peiris (Physics & Astronomy), Dr Giorgio Savini (Physics & Astronomy), and Dr Jason McEwen (MSSL), and past and present members of their research teams (including Dr Stephen Feeney, Dr Franz Elsner, Dr Aurélien Benoit-Lévy and Dr Dipak Munshi), are involved in the Planck satellite mission and made important contributions to Planck instrumentation, analyses and data releases.

Giorgio Savini spent the five years prior to launch assembling and testing Planck’s cold optics, as well as testing and selecting all the other optical components, which constitute the “eyes” of the Planck High Frequency Instrument, so that the nature of the polarised signal observed by the Planck detectors can be reconstructed with very high precision.

Hiranya Peiris and Jason McEwen, and their research teams, played key roles in using the Planck cosmological data to understand the origin of cosmic structure in the early universe, the global geometry, isotropy and topology of the Universe, and its mass distribution.

“The Planck project has made definitive measurements of the properties of our expanding universe. This stunning achievement was the result of a large group effort, and we are pleased to recognize both the Planck team as a whole and its principal science team leaders.” Says Robert Kennicutt, University of Arizona, and Chair of the Selection Advisory Board to the Prize.

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