This award is presented annually by the AIAA to recognize outstanding achievements in the architecture, analysis, design, and implementation of space systems.
The Herschel and Planck project teams have been cited for "outstanding scientific achievements recognized by the worldwide scientific community and for outstanding technical performances of the two satellites."
This award was given to Thomas Passvogel, Herschel and Planck Programme Manager from 2000 until 2009, Göran Pilbratt, Herschel Project Scientist Herschel and Jan Tauber, Planck Project Scientist, on September 2 2015 during the AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition, in Pasadena, California.
The Herschel infrared space observatory, which operated from May 2009 until April 2013, carried the largest telescope ever built for a space observatory. It carried out over 40,000 scientific observations, during more than 25,000 hours. With its three instruments, it enabled to analyze some of the coldest and most distant objects of the Universe. All these scientific observations have been publicly available for use by astronomers across the globe since late 2013.
Planck was designed to probe with the highest accuracy ever achieved, the remnants of the radiation that filled the Universe 380,000 years after the Big Bang. Its two instruments required an innovative cooling technology.
Originally targeted to complete two whole surveys of the sky following launch in May 2009, Planck exceeded this goal and by the time the mission was completed in October 2013 it managed five full-sky surveys with both instruments as well as three more with only one of the instruments.
Data from Planck are helping to provide answers to some of the most important questions in modern science: how did the Universe begin, how did it evolve to the state we observe today, and how will it continue to evolve in the future? These data are now publicly available for anyone to use for their own research.
You can also read the ESA's news.