Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Arthur D. Code (1923 - 2009)

Pioneer of Orbiting Telescopes

Arthur D. Code, whose lifelong love of the stars and the night sky led to a meteoric career in astrophysics, died in Madison, Wis., on March 11 after a long illness. He was 85.

Code, who spent more than 40 years on the UW-Madison faculty, was a pioneer in space astronomy, leading initiatives to put astronomical telescopes and other instruments in space above the obscuring influence of the Earth's atmosphere. Long before the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, Code built orbiting observatories and connived tirelessly to get telescopes into space, in one project placing a cigar box-sized photometer aboard an X-15, the rocket-powered planes of the early 1960s that were the first aircraft to fly high enough to pierce the atmosphere and soar, albeit briefly, in space.

In a long and distinguished career, Code would go on to build the world's first successful orbiting observatory, the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory, launched in 1968, and help establish the Space Telescope Science Institute as its founding acting-director. He also developed and operated a sophisticated space-shuttle-borne ultraviolet telescope known as WUPPE (Wisconsin Ultraviolet Photopolarimeter Experiment) in 1990 and 1995 as part of NASA's Astro missions. Code also founded UW-Madison's Space Astronomy Laboratory, a lab responsible for building intricate, but rugged, telescopes and instruments to fly in space.

"Art's career paralleled the advancement of space exploration, and his vision and brilliance contributed centrally to the development of space astronomy," says Robert Mathieu, chair of he UW-Madison Department of Astronomy.

From U. of Wisconsin-Madison Obit HERE.