The 2006 Vening Meinesz Medal is awarded to Gerhard Beutler in recognition of his notable contributions to the international application of the Global Positioning System in geodesy and geophysics.
Gerhard Beutler is currently a professor at and director of the Astronomical Institute at the University of Bern. He studied astronomy, with minors in mathematics and physics. and received his PhD in 1976.
Celestial mechanics represents the core of Professor Gerhard Beutler’s research. With his work on orbit mechanics and on the rotational motion of deformable bodies he contributed fundamentally to celestial mechanics. He has recently published a two volume work, “Methods of celestial Mechanics” (Springer, 2005) which provides, among other things, a summary of his research. His research in celestial mechanics laid the foundation for his important contributions to the development of the scientific use of the Global Positioning System (GPS). Professor Beutler’s work on orbit determination and signal analysis of GPS satellites contributed significantly to the rapid development of GPS in Earth sciences. Today, these applications range from global or regional tectonic monitoring, via precise orbit determination of low Earth orbiters, global time transfer and time synchronisation to ionospheric and atmospheric sounding. He was fundamental in the development of the “Bernese GPS Software”, which set an international standard for GPS data processing and is currently used by more than 200 groups worldwide. He was also instrumental in developing the CODE Analysis Center, one of only six institutions of the International GPS Service (IGS) that provide and maintain very precise global terrestrial reference frame and precise orbits for a large variety science applications and a very large user community.
Gerhard Beutler combines his qualities as outstanding scholar and scientist with that of a very gifted science manager with a great vision. He served on several programme committees of ESA, the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) and national research institutes. Under his guidance the scientific mission and structure of IAG have been assessed and modernized. Gerhard Beutler is also the “motor” behind the creation of a “Global Geodetic Observing System” (GGOS), which is now the main focus of IAG.