Who is Dilhan Eryurt? Google Doodle Celebrates Pioneering NASA Scientist

Dilhan Eryurt is celebrated in today's Google Doodle, marking the 51st anniversary of the moon landing. The Turkish astrophysicist and NASA scientist played an important role in the Apollo 11 moon landing, with her research into the Sun allowing NASA to develop crucial technology.

While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are the most well-known names associated with the moon landing, countless people were involved in making the "giant leap for mankind" a reality, including Eryurt.

The Google Doodle shows an image of Eryurt gazing at the stars, with the word 'Google' made up of a night sky featuring stars, planets, constellations and a rocket. Google also references her early interest in mathematics, with a constellation in the 'G' of the word 'Google' depicting the square root symbol.

Who was Dilhan Eryurt?

Born on November 29, 1926, in Izmir, Turkey, Eryurt's family moved to Istanbul, and eventually to Ankara. Eryurt attended college at Istanbul University where she studied science and became interested in astronomy, before moving to Canada to work at the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1959.

Two years later, she began working for NASA in Washington, D.C., at the NASA's Goddard Institute, where she worked for 12 years and collaborated with Alastair G. W. Cameron. She was at one time reportedly the only woman at the Institute.

As an astrophysicist, Eryurt studied the evolution of the sun, and her research into the effects of the sun on the lunar landscape was critical to the Apollo 11 mission. Eryurt discovered that the sun is cooling, which helped NASA develop the technology that was used for its space missions of the 1960s and 1970s.

Dilhan Eryurt Google Doodle
Turkish astrophysicist Dilhan Eryurt is celebrated in today's Google Doodle, on the 51st anniversary of the moon landing. Google Doodle

Eryurt was celebrated for the role she played in the Apollo 11 mission and was awarded the Apollo Achievement Award for her contribution to the mission later that year.

In 1973, Eryurt returned to the Middle Eastern Technical University where she had been a guest professor in 1968. Here, she established the Department of Astrophysics, and in 1988 she became the Head of Physics Department in the Faculty of Science-Literature, before becoming the dean of the faculty for five years.

The astrophysicist retired in 1993 and died in Ankara on September 13, 2012, aged 85.

In an interview in 2001, Armstrong paid tribute to the thousands of people who worked on the Apollo 11 mission and said: "I can only attribute that to the fact that every guy in the project, every guy at the bench building something, every assembler, every inspector, every guy that's setting up the tests, cranking the torque wrench, and so on, is saying, man or woman, 'If anything goes wrong here, it's not going to be my fault, because my part is going to be better than I have to make it.'

"And when you have hundreds of thousands of people all doing their job a little better than they have to, you get an improvement in performance. And that's the only reason we could have pulled this whole thing off."