Today’s Google Doodle honours the life and work of Turkish astrophysicist Professor Dilhan Eryurt.
Born in 1926, Professor Eryurt went on to enjoy a distinguished career which saw her contribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing 51 years ago today.
Following a lifetime of achievement in astrophysics and astronomy, and Google Doodle she sadly passed away at the age of 85 in her native Turkey on September 13, 2012, due to a heart attack.
Who was Dilhan Eryurt?
Professor Eryurt was born in Izmir, western Turkey, on November 29, 1926.
At an early age, her family moved from the city, situated on Turkey’s Aegean coast, to Istanbul, the country’s cultural and economic hub.
The family relocated again shortly afterwards, trading Turkey’s biggest city for its capital, Ankara.
It was here where Professor Eryurt honed her gift for Mathematics, which she eventually went on to study at university, back in Istanbul.
While studying at Istanbul University, Professor Eryurt developed an interest in Astronomy.
This interest blossomed in the following years, and saw her help open an Astronomy Department at Ankara University, before getting her doctorate there in 1953 after spending time at the University of Michigan.
Professor Eryurt later went on to move to Canada for two years with a scholarship from the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1959, before then heading for the United States, firstly to Indiana University, and after that to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in Maryland.
At the time, she was the only female astronomer working at the institution.
Her work at the Goddard Institute included major breakthroughs in improving our understanding of the Sun.
She learnt that the brightness of the star had had decreased during its 4.5 billion years lifespan, meaning it was warmer and brighter in the past.
Her research proved pivotal in planning for space flights at the time.
In acknowledgement of her contribution to the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, Professor Eryurt was awarded the Apollo Achievement Award.
She later moved on to work at the California University, where she studied the formation and development of Main Sequence stars – a continuous band of stars that appear on plots of stellar colour versus brightness.
Professor Eryurt continued her research until 1973, when she returned to Turkey permanently to take up a position at the Middle East Technical University, in Ankara.
She had gone back temporarily five years earlier to organise the country’s first National Astronomy Congress.
A few years after returning home, Professor Eryurt was awarded the Tübitak Science Award in 1977.
She eventually retired in 1993, drawing her illustrious career to a close.
She sadly passed away 19 years later in Ankara on September 13, 2012, due to a heart attack.
Originally published at Evening standard