Female space scientist wins award

A FEMALE space scientist has won a prestigious national award for her work on a satellite which will map the billion stars in our galaxy. Vicki Hodges, a physicist at Astrium on Gunnels Wood Road in Stevenage, received the Very Early Career Woman Award fr

A FEMALE space scientist has won a prestigious national award for her work on a satellite which will map the billion stars in our galaxy.

Vicki Hodges, a physicist at Astrium on Gunnels Wood Road in Stevenage, received the Very Early Career Woman Award from the Institute of Physics.

The award aims to recognise early career women working in physics-related fields, highlighting how their skills, ambition and desire to inspire others into physics-related pursuits are bearing fruit.

Vicki was one of four shortlisted candidates for the award and had to make a presentation to judges, during which she explained she is currently working on GAIA - one of the European Space Agency's cornerstone projects, due to be launched in 2012.


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Once construction of the satellite is completed, it will be able to map the billion or so stars in our galaxy.

Vicki said: "Once the satellite is in space it has to be driven like a car, but it's not possible to do this in real time.

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"You have to make the machinery autonomous to overcome the five or 10-minute gap between sending a signal and the satellite receiving it. That's a big part of my team's challenge."

The judges were also impressed with the fact Vicki has recently spent a fair proportion of her time working on an outreach programme for school children visiting Astrium in Stevenage.

The new programme has already been well received by more than 500 children, helping to inspire space scientists of the future.

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