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George Carruthers

Astrophysicist George Robert Carruthers was born on October 1, 1939 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father was a civil engineer and his mother worked for the U.S. Postal Service. The family lived in Milford, Ohio until Carruthers’ father died suddenly and his mother moved the family back to her native Chicago. As a child, he enjoyed visiting Chicago museums, libraries, planetariums and was a member of the Chicago Rocket Society and various science clubs. In 1957, Carruthers earned his high school diploma from Englewood High School in Chicago, also the same year the Russians launched the first Sputnik.

Carruthers attended the University of Illinois, earning his B.S. degree in aeronautical engineering in 1961. He also pursued his graduate work at the University of Illinois, earning his M.S. degree in nuclear engineering in 1962 and his Ph.D. in aeronautical and astronomical engineering in 1964. While conducting his graduate studies, Carruthers worked as a research and teaching assistant studying plasma and gases. In 1964, Carruthers began working for the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. where his work focused on far ultraviolet astronomy. In 1969, the United States Patent office gave Carruthers credit for inventing the “Image Converter” – an instrument that detects electromagnetic radiation in short wave lengths – and in 1970 his invention recorded the first observation of molecular hydrogen in outer space. In 1972, Carruthers invented the first moon-based observatory, the far ultraviolet camera / spectrograph, which was used in the Apollo 16 mission.

In the 1980s, Carruthers helped create a program called the Science & Engineers Apprentice Program, which allowed high school students to spend a summer working with scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory. When, in 1986, Halley’s Comet passed Earth for the first time since 1910, one of Carruthers’ inventions captured an ultraviolet image of it. In 1991, he invented a camera that was used in the Space Shuttle Mission. Since 2002, Carruthers has taught a two-semester course in earth and space science at Howard University in Washington, D.C., an education initiative sponsored by a NASA Aerospace Workforce Development Grant.

Carruthers has been the recognized by professional and academic organizations for his achievements. The Office of Naval Research honored him as a distinguished Lecturer for his achievements in the field of space science. He is also a recipient of the Arthur S. Flemming Award, the Warner Prize from the American Astronomical Society, and an Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal from NASA. Carruthers was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his contributions to aeronautical engineering.

George Carruthers was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on 08/26/2012.

Accession Number

A2004.112

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/27/2004 |and| 8/27/2012

Last Name

Carruthers

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Robert

Occupation
Schools

McCosh Elementary School

Englewood High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Search Occupation Category
First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Cincinnati

HM ID

CAR07

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southwestern United States

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

10/1/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Astrophysicist George Carruthers (1939 - ) has worked for the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., where his work has focused on far ultraviolet astronomy. His numerous inventions include one that was used in the Apollo 16 Mission, another that captured an ultraviolet image of Halley's Comet, and a camera that was used in the Space Shuttle Mission.

Employment

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Naval Research Laboratory

Howard University

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

None

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Carruthers' interview - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Carruthers lists his favorites - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Carruthers talks about his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Carruthers talks about his parents' family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Carruthers describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Carruthers talks about his siblings and describes his childhood neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Carruthers talks about his father's sudden death

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Carruthers talks about his access to libraries and museums in Chicago, Illinois, and his interest in astronomy

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Carruthers describes the changes that had occurred over the years in Cincinnati and Milford, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George Carruthers describes his experience in elementary school in Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - George Carruthers talks about his interest in astronomy and space science as a young boy

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - George Carruthers describes his experience in junior high school and with the Chicago Rocket Society in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Carruthers talks about his family's involvement with church

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Carruthers talks about his family's reaction to his interest in astronomy and space science

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Carruthers describes his experiences at Englewood High School in Chicago, Illinois.

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Carruthers describes his decision to attend the University of Illinois to study astronomy and aerospace engineering

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Carruthers describes his experience at the University of Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Carruthers describes his research on gases as a doctoral student at the University of Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Carruthers describes his career aspirations as a doctoral student at the University of Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Carruthers describes his research with far ultraviolet astronomy at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Carruthers describes his experience in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - George Carruthers describes his patent on the image converter in 1969

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Carruthers talks about the Apollo space program

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Carruthers describes his experience at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and his contribution towards the first observation of molecular hydrogen in space

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Carruthers talks about his contribution towards capturing the ultra violet image of Haley's Comet in 1986

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Carruthers talks about the period of transition between the Apollo missions and the Space Shuttle era in U.S. space programs

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Carruthers talks about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Carruthers describes his work with the STS-39 Space Shuttle mission in 1991, and his professional relationship with astronaut Guion Bluford

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Carruthers talks about his involvement with mentoring students in space science

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Carruthers talks about his involvement in science education initiatives for African American students

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - George Carruthers talks about science fiction and scientific realities of the twenty-first century

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Carruthers recalls the Space Shuttle Columbia accident in 2003

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Carruthers discusses collaborative space research in the twenty-first century, and reflects upon the future of space science

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Carruthers talks about prominent African Americans involved in the space program and administration

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Carruthers reflects upon his most significant contributions towards space research

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Carruthers gives advice to students who are interested in a career in astronomy or aeronautical engineering

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Carruthers reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Carruthers talks about the importance of science education and public outreach

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Carruthers' interview - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Carruthers describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Carruthers talks about his parents and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Carruthers describes his interest in astronomy, and the influence of Buck Rogers comic books and the German scientist, Wernher von Braun

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Carruthers describes his experience in elementary school in Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Carruthers talks about his father's sudden death, and his family's move from Milford, Ohio to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Carruthers talks about his grade schools in Milford, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Carruthers describes his experience at Englewood High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Carruthers talks about his correspondence with German scientist Wernher von Braun

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Carruthers talks about Sputnik's influence on the U.S. space program

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Carruthers describes the image converter device that he developed for detecting electromagnetic radiation in short wavelengths

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Carruthers talks about his work with developing the image converter for detecting electromagnetic radiation, especially ultraviolet light

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Carruthers talks about the applications of the electrograph ultraviolet camera

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Carruthers talks about the application of the electrograph ultraviolet camera to capture images of Comet Kohoutek in 1973

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Carruthers describes his involvement with NASA Starlab

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Carruthers talks about the first observation of molecular hydrogen outside of the Earth's atmosphere

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Carruthers talks about his involvement in science education and outreach

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - George Carruthers talks about the findings from the images of Haley's Comet in 1986

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - George Carruthers talks about his involvement with the National Technical Association (NTA)

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - George Carruthers talks about serving on the Space Telescope Science Institute's review committee for the Hubble telescope

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - George Carruthers talks about the lack of student recruitment in the physics department at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Carruthers talks about the state of the physics department at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Carruthers talks about his involvement on the Council of the Smithsonian Institution

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Carruthers talks about Global Imaging Monitor of the Ionosphere (GIMI) and the High Resolution Airglow/Aurora Spectroscopy experiment

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Carruthers talks about his teaching experience at Howard University's department of physics and astronomy

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Carruthers talks about being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2003

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Carruthers talks about the activities that he is involved in after retiring from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Carruthers describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Carruthers reflects upon his career and his legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - George Carruthers talks about his family

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - George Carruthers talks about visual and practical ways to teach science, engineering and mathematics

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - George Carruthers shares his views on communicating science, and generating interest in science and engineering amongst students

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - George Carruthers talks about the importance of science education and public outreach

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - George Carruthers talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - George Carruthers talks about the International Space Station

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - George Carruthers talks about the National Technical Association (NTA)

Tape: 3 Story: 16 - George Carruthers talks about Science, Mathematics, Aerospace, Research and Technology, Inc. (SMART)

Tape: 3 Story: 17 - George Carruthers explains the transit of the planet Venus between the sun and the Earth, and the Venus Transit Program at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Carruthers talks about the annual mathematics contest sponsored by the National Technical Association (NTA)