Colin Pillinger

BSc Chemistry, PhD Mass Spectrometry. Class of 1964. Pioneer. Space Scientist. Mars Explorer.

Colin completed his BSc and PhD in Chemistry at Swansea, though he once admitted “he was a disaster of a science student”. For a disaster of a student he certainly made up for it through his career. After graduating, Colin became a senior research associate at Cambridge University and then a senior research fellow at the Open University. He then went on to become Professor of Interplanetary Science at the Open University.

Colins first job was with NASA. He was involved with the Apollo Space programme and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission. He analysed the lunar samples brought back by Apollo.

From 1996-2000 Colin was Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, a position once held by Sir Christopher Wren. Colin was credited with inspiring many people to develop an interest in space science. He was also responsible for training and supporting many experts and for bringing the science and industry communities together in the UK.

Colin was the principal investigator for the Beagle 2 Mars lander project. Part of ESA’s 2003 Mars Express Mission. Initially deemed a failure, it has since come to light that Beagle 2 did successfully land on Mars although it failed to fully deploy.