Dr. Ian A. Crawford
Ian A. Crawford, Ph.D., FRAS
is an astronomer turned planetary scientist who is Director of the
UCL/Birkbeck Centre for Planetary Science and
Astrobiology, with a significant interest in the future of space
Ian is developing a planetary science research programme based on the remote sensing of planetary surfaces, and especially that of the Moon using multispectral imaging data obtained by the Clementine spacecraft. He is a co-investigator on the D-CIXS instrument (Demonstration of a Compact Imaging X-ray Spectrometer) currently in orbit around the Moon on ESA’s SMART1 spacecraft. D-CIXS provides compositional information about the lunar surface, and in particular the abundances of magnesium, aluminium, and silicon, which will be used to constrain models of lunar evolution.
In 2003, Ian was with the Human Spaceflight Vision Group (HSVG), established by the European Space Agency (ESA) to advise on future human space projects. The HSVG reported in December 2003 and recommended that ESA participate in sending astronauts back to the Moon, for a range of scientific, cultural, political and economic reasons. He was primarily responsible for collating the scientific case, which has been published in Space Policy as The scientific case for renewed human activities on the Moon.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a member of the International Astronomical Union, the Association for Astronomy Education, and of the Planetary Society. He is a member of the Education Committee of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vice President of the Society for Popular Astronomy, and an occasional lecturer at Space School UK.
Ian authored To Still Boldly Go in Prospect, Searching for Extraterrestrials: Where are They? in Scientific American, Some Thoughts on the Implications of Faster-Than-Light Interstellar Space Travel and Interstellar Travel: a Review for Astronomers in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Space, World Government, and “The End of History” in Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.
His earlier astronomical research had mostly concerned the physics, chemistry, and dynamics of interstellar and circumstellar environments, as probed by high-resolution optical spectroscopy. This was largely based on the unique capabilities of the Ultra-High-Resolution Facility (UHRF) at the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT). With a resolving power of one million, the UHRF is the world’s highest resolution astronomical spectrograph, and permitted significant advances in our understanding of the interstellar medium through its ability to resolve the intrinsic profiles of interstellar absorption lines. In the circumstellar field, his interests mainly concerned the study of circumstellar (presumably protoplanetary) disks and their central stars. Between 1998 and 2003 he held a PPARC Advanced Fellowship for research in these areas. He authored or coauthored over fifty related papers and his website has a complete list of these publications.
Ian received a B.Sc. in Astronomy at University College London in 1982, a M.Sc. in Geophysics and Planetary Physics at University of Newcastle in 1983, and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics at University College London in 1988. He also has developing interests in the new science of astrobiology the study of the astronomical and planetary context of the origin and evolution of life, and what this tells us about the likely prevalence of life elsewhere in the universe.