Lead engineer of Australia’s planet hunter receives national award

Dr James Gilbert next to telescope.

ANU researcher, Dr James Gilbert, has been named one of Australia’s most innovative engineers.

Dr Gilbert has been recognised, in the young engineers category, for his work building an optical spectrograph for the 3.9 metre Anglo-Australian Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales.

This new equipment will help in the hunt for planets as small as distant Earths orbiting stars thousands of light years away.

“I led the design and construction of ‘Veloce Rosso’, a $2 million precision radial velocity spectrograph for discovering extra-solar planets,” Dr Gilbert, from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, told Create Magazine.

“This instrument used multiple design innovations to achieve performance rivalling international programs costing 10 times as much.”

A panel of judges said, “Dr Gilbert has overcome severe physical constraints in the project resources to develop a spectrograph for exploring extra-solar planets”.

“His work demonstrates significant innovation, which will potentially provide new knowledge about the universe," they said.

“It certainly represents breakthrough thinking and shows an innovative integration of solutions from other areas that haven’t been solved elsewhere.”

Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers is an annual program run by Create Magazine, the publication of Engineers Australia. Now in its fifth year, the Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers list profiles 30 Australian engineers who are finding creative and innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.

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