Ken Pounds

© Max Alexander / Science Photo Library Ltd

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Ken Pounds

by Max Alexander
chromogenic print, 13 October 2008
13 in. x 9 7/8 in. (330 mm x 250 mm) image size
Purchased, 2010
Photographs Collection
NPG x133359

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  • Max Alexander (1961-), Photographer. Artist or producer of 5 portraits.

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Jonathan Whitney

30 June 2022, 15:55

Ken Pounds has made important contributions to solar and cosmic X-ray astronomy both as a very able and innovative experimentalist and by vigorous leadership of the Space Research Group he established at the University of Leicester. He pioneered the use of space techniques for this work, playing a major role in introducing proportional counting for spectral studies, pulse length discrimination for signal/noise ratio improvement, Bragg crystal spectroscopy, the employment of balanced filter techniques and in applying the microchannel multiplier combined with a two-dimensional readout system to achieve resolutions of a few arc seconds on the US ‘Einstein’ satellite. These developments enabled him to make the first direct measurements of solar broadband X-ray spectra and to obtain most of the early high-resolution data. He was quick to perceive the value of very simple rocket experiments for sky-surveys and so carried out the first UK cosmic X-ray observation discovering early evidence for the transience of some sources. He was also among the Leicester team which formed the project to establish what would become the National Space Centre, opened in the city in 2001. Ken’s research, leadership, accuracy of scientific judgement and astute perception of the current problems have gained for him a well-deserved international reputation.