After retirement Gudmandsen continued at DTU as a very active professor emeritus, where he studied the sea ice situation in Nares Strait using Sentinel-1 data. (Photo: ESA)

Preben E. Gudmandsen, DTU veteran scientist, dies at 94

Wednesday 15 May 19
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Henning Skriver
Deputy Head of Department, Executive Board – Education and Economy
DTU Space
+4545 25 37 92
Orbituary: Former professor Preben Gudmandsen graduated from DTU in 1950 and was active there for more than half a century.

Through his entire working life Preben E. Gudmandsen was ideeply engaged in research within the field of microwave remote sensing, used as a tool to obtain information about remote areas on Earth that are not easily accessible on the ground.

He initiated many Danish and international research projects on measurements from aircrafts and satellites funded especially by DTU and the European Space Agency, ESA.

Preben E. Gudmandsen graduated in 1950 as M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Danmarks Tekniske Højskole (Technical University of Denmark, today DTU) with a thesis on waveguide structures. Later he went on to become a professor in microwave techniques.

From 1950 to 1957 he worked as a research engineer at the Microwave Laboratories of the Academy of Technical Sciences, Denmark. From 1957 to 1960 he was a research scientist and later head of section at Shape Air Defence Technical Centre in The Hague in the Netherlands. From 1960 to 1961 he was employed as a development engineer at Titan A/S, Copenhagen.

From 1961 to his retirement in 1994 he was employed at the Technical University of Denmark, first as an amanuensis, then as an associate professor, and finally as full professor. After official retirement he continued conducting research at DTU for many years. Most recently at DTU Space as a very active professor emeritus, where he for instance studied the sea ice situation in Nares Strait using Sentinel-1 satellite data.

Gudmandsen initiated the remote sensing activities at DTU in 1967. This was done by starting a 10 year project measuring the thickness of the Greenland Ice Sheet with radar echo sounding. This project included system design, development and implementation of the radar system, execution of flight campaigns, and analysis of radar data for mapping of the bedrock beneath the ice.

He was also one of the first to engage in remote sensing activities from aircrafts and satellites in Denmark. In 1972 he started the application of satellite data from passive microwave sensors for mapping of the sea ice in the waters around Greenland.

Through the 1980’s and 1990’s he headed a number of Danish and international projects with ESA including development and applications of methods to map and study the sea ice in the Greenland Sea. This also included the use of data from the first European radar satellite, ERS-1, where he was Principal Investigator. 

Preben E. Gudmandsen served as Danish delegate to ESA from 1972 to 1994 in various boards and working groups, including the Council from 1987to 1994. He was member of the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences, and from 1972 to 1994 member of the Commission for Scientific Investigations in Greenland.

He was honoured for his research with a number of prizes, including the Hartmann-Prisen and the Hans Egede Medaljen from the Royal Danish Geographical Society. He was also one of the founders of the EARSeL (European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories), where he was President from 1976 to 1982, and later became a Honorary member.

Preben E. Gudmandsen died 2 May 2019 aged 94.

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