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Bios for Kids: George Robert Carruthers

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This famous inventor is out of this world! Learn about George Roberts Carruthers, who invented special cameras used in space.

Bios for Kids George Robert Carruthers

All About George Robert Carruthers

There is so much more to the universe than what we can see with our eyes.

George Robert Caruthers, an engineer and inventor who worked for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, understood this.

He invented several types of cameras that captured information in different ways.

He helped us to learn more about Earth’s atmosphere as well as deep space. 

Bios for Kids George Robert Carruthers

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His Background

George Robert Carrithers was born on October 1, 1939 in Cinncinati, Ohio.

His father was an engineer for the U.S. Army, and he encouraged George to study science.

When George was 10 he built his own telescope from cardboard tubes and mirrors he ordered from catalogs.

Although his dad died two years later, George continued to pursue science.

As a high school student, he entered science fairs and won awards, including first prize for a telescope he had built.

He attended college at the University of Illinois and studied astronomy and engineering.

He later studied nuclear engineering and astronautical engineering.

After college, he got a job working for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. 

Bios for Kids George Robert Carruthers

His Famous Invention

Did you know there is a kind of light we can’t see with our eyes?

George Robert Carruthers invented a camera to capture ultraviolet light (it’s called a spectrograph) and obtained a U.S. patent for it in 1969.

The spectrograph went on a rocket in 1970 and took pictures of space; its pictures were the first proof that space contained the molecule of hydrogen.

In 1972 on the Apollo 16 space mission, astronauts on the moon used the spectrograph to take pictures of Earth’s atmosphere.

With the camera, they could capture the first images of pollution in our atmosphere.

The astronauts also took pictures of space; they saw over 550 stars and galaxies!

Bios for Kids George Robert Carruthers

Remembering George Robert Carruthers

George Robert Carruthers was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his work on the spectrograph, but he didn’t stop there.

He kept inventing. In the 1980s, one of his cameras captured an image of Halley’s Comet in ultraviolet light.

In 1991, astronauts took one of his cameras on a space shuttle mission.

For his work in science and engineering, George was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2003.

He won numerous awards, including the Arthur S. Flemming Award and the Warner Prize from the American Astronomical Society.

George spent the latter part of his life teaching about science.

He wanted young people to be inspired and become inventors, scientists, and engineers, too.

George Robert Carruthers died on December 26, 2020.

Bios for Kids George Robert Carruthers

Famous Inventor George Robert Carruthers

Although he never went to space, George Robert Carruthers invented cameras that helped us understand the mysteries of distant stars, comets, and galaxies.

His spectrograph allowed us to see ultraviolet light and learn more about our universe.

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Works Cited

“George Carruthers.”, A&E Networks Television, 24 Feb. 2021,

“George Carruthers’s Biography.” The History Makers, National Science Foundation, 2021,

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