|Is|| Scientist |
|Birth||1972, Manor Park, London Borough of Newham, Greater London, London|
Matthew Graham George Thaddeus “Matt” Taylor (born 1973) is a British astrophysicist employed by the European Space Agency. He is best known to the public for his involvement in the landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko by the Rosetta mission (European Space Agency)’s Philae lander, which was the first spacecraft to land on a comet nucleus. He is Project Scientist of the Rosetta mission.
Education and early life
Taylor was born in Manor Park, London. He was born in 1973, and is the son of a bricklayer and worked alongside his father, on building sites, during his summer breaks from university.
He received a degree in physics from the University of Liverpool, as well as a Ph.D in space physics which focused on Magnetohydrodynamics modeling of astrophysical plasma in the magnetosphere from Imperial College London.
Career and research
After completing his PhD, Taylor joined the Mullard Space Science Laboratory as a Cluster research fellow. This position led to his appointment as Cluster project scientist in 2005. He is an author on 70 publications, primarily on the topic of aurorae. In summer 2013, Taylor was assigned the role of Project Scientist for the Rosetta mission. Taylor’s research has been published in leading peer reviewed scientific journals including Nature, the Journal of Geophysical Research, Geophysical Research Letters and the Annales Geophyisicae.
While giving a televised status update on the Rosetta space craft, Taylor wore a shirt depicting scantily-clad cartoon women with firearms made by his friend Elly Prizeman. Taylor’s decision to wear the shirt to a press conference drew criticism from a number of commentators, who saw a reflection of a culture where women are unwelcome in scientific fields. Others, including Boris Johnson, Julie Bindel and Tim Stanley, made arguments against this criticism. Taylor later made a visibly emotional public apology, saying: “The shirt I wore this week – I made a big mistake, and I offended many people. And I’m very sorry about this”. Some writers expressed appreciation for Taylor’s apology. A campaign was set up on the crowdfund website Indiegogo, with the objective of raising $3,000 to buy Taylor a gift, as a token of the public’s appreciation for the work that he and the team had done. The campaign raised a total of $24,003, of which $23,000 was donated to UNAWE at Taylor’s request, the remainder going towards a plaque commemorating the mission.
Taylor and his wife Leanne have two children. He has a tattoo of the Rosetta spacecraft and its lander Philae on his leg, which he had tattooed after the spacecraft was successfully awoken from hibernation in 2014. Additionally, Taylor is a devoted fan of heavy metal, especially death metal, and posed with David Vincent of Morbid Angel for the magazine Metal Hammer, as well as having been photographed wearing Cannibal Corpse shirts multiple times.