Jordi Torra - Gaia
( 23/04/1949 - 26/02/2019)
University of Barcelona
It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing away of Prof. Jordi Torra on February 26 2019. Jordi was one of the important movers of Gaia and in particular DPAC. His leadership of the early prototype for a Gaia data processing system and his community organizing efforts in Spain led to the many invaluable Spanish contributions to DPAC. Jordi and the positive spirit in which he always approached any difficulties encountered along the way to make Gaia and DPAC happen will be very much missed.
Below is an obituary prepared by the Gaia team in Barcelona.
Barcelona, 23/04/1949 – 26/02/2019
Ph.D. in Physics by the University of Barcelona (1984) and Professor in the Department of Quantum Physics and Astrophysics in the same University, he focused his research career in the study of the structure, formation and evolution of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. In the 80s he accepted the challenge to lead the Spanish participation in the ESA's Hipparcos mission and, as a result from this work, Spain is fully participating in the Gaia mission.
Jordi was very active since the first steps of the mission definition. He was leading the first data processing prototype GDAAS (Gaia Data Access and Analysis Study 2000-2004), and co-leading CU3 since the formation of DPAC until recently. He was as well the PI of Gaia in Barcelona and strongly pushed for the involvement of other Spanish groups in DPAC. Jordi Torra also participated in other space missions as the optical camera of the Integral satellite (OMC@INTEGRAL) or the SMART-2 mission. More recently he was involved in the definition of future astrometric missions (NEAT, THEIA and GaiaNIR).
Passionate about astronomical observations and with a wide experience in the usage of telescopes on Earth, Jordi took part in the development of new instrumentation for the Gran Telescopio de Canarias (MIRADAS@GRANTECAN) and was one of the promoters of the establishment of the Observatorio Astronómico del Montsec and of the Centro de Observación del Universo, both in Àger, the largest infrastructures for astronomical observation and public outreach in Catalunya.
A highlight is his excellent and dedicated educational work in astrophysics and mathematics for many generations of students in the degree of Physics. Jordi trained many young researches in the field and supervised nine Ph.Ds., most of them still active in research. In the Gaia-Barcelona group more than 50 professionals have been trained in the last 20 years. In the transfer of technology, he was founder of the first joint spin-off company (DAPCOM) between the Universitat de Barcelona and the Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya (UPC).
His enormous working capacity and his high degree of responsibility that he never avoid, took him to assume several roles in scientific management: Gestor del Plan Nacional de Astronomía y Astrofísica (Spanish Manager of the National Plan in Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2007-2011), member of the Committee for Spain joining the European Southern Observatory (ESO, 2006), Spanish delegate at ESO council, coordinator of the Spanish Astronomy Insfrastructures Network (RIA, 2012-2017) and director of the Instituto de Estudios Espaciales de Cataluña (IEEC, 2015-2017). Jordi was also the promoter of the first law on Light Pollution by the Generalitat de Catalunya.
Jordi worked with passion in all fields: education, research, science management and public outreach. His involvement was recognised with the awards "Ciudad de Barcelona" in the Science and Technology field (2013) and, recently, with the "Medalla Narcís Monturiol" (2018).
Rest in peace.
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