Each year the RAS recognises significant achievement in the fields of astronomy and geophysics through these awards.
Professor Wells, who has played a pivotal role in UK Space Science for over 40 years, is the recipient of the 2016 Service Award for Astronomy.
Since joining the University of Leicester in 1973, he has been Space Projects Manager and then Founding Director of the University’s Space Research Centre. He has played a crucial role in the proposal, development, design, test, launch and operations of many iconic space science mission instruments and without him, the UK and wider international community would have been far less likely to see the fruits of these remarkably successful projects.
In addition to his crucial role in many successful space missions, he has been one of the prime movers in the establishment and continued operation of the Millennium Commission-funded National Space Centre.
The UK and indeed the whole world have a wealth of extraordinarily talented women and men working in astronomy and geophysics
Since retiring, he has worked tirelessly for the East Midlands and City of Leicester in establishing a Space Technology Cluster in the region.
Professor Wells said: "The Royal Astronomical Society's Service Award is unique in recognising contributions of people who have helped to enable new discoveries in space science and exploration, through the development and operation of new telescopes, instruments and space missions. It takes a lot of time and effort to place new world class facilities like these in the hands of the wider astronomical community. Our great team of space scientists and engineers at Leicester's Space Research Centre have been very successful at doing this and I am proud to accept the RAS Service Award for 2016 in recognition of their contributions as well as my own."
Professor Martin Barstow, President of the Royal Astronomical Society and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester, offered his congratulations to all award winners: “The UK and indeed the whole world have a wealth of extraordinarily talented women and men working in astronomy and geophysics. Each year the Society marks their achievements with our awards and medals, something it gives me huge pleasure to announce. I am delighted to congratulate all the winners and wish them continued success in their scientific careers.”
The winners of this year’s RAS awards will be invited to collect their awards at the Society's 2016 National Astronomy Meeting in June.