Monthly evening lectures, each followed by a short planetarium show.
These Wednesday lectures are aimed at a level a little above most popular science lectures, so come prepared to exercise your brain and learn the science behind the headlines. The speakers are chosen from the best academic speakers in the UK, with a talent for explaining difficult concepts and the knowledge to give the very latest news from the research community.
Although the primary audience is adults, older children are also welcome to attend.
15 January 2020 - Dissecting dots: exploring the diversity of alien worlds
Dr Ben Burningham
Abstract: The last decade has brought an explosion in the number of planets beyond the solar system that are known to science, revealing an incredible diversity of alien worlds and planetary systems which continue to surprise and intrigue scientists. Dr Ben Burningham (University of Hertfordshire) will take you on a tour of this planetary zoo, and bring you up to date on the hunt for oases of habitability in the harshness of the cosmos.
The Lecturer: Dr Ben Burningham is a Senior Research Fellow and Director of Outreach and Public Engagement at the University of Hertfordshire’s Centre for Astrophysics Research. His research focuses on remote sensing the atmospheres of giant exoplanets and brown dwarfs. He earned his PhD from the University of Exeter in 2006. He has worked at the University of Hertfordshire since 2007, with periods of secondment to the National Observatory of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro (2012 - 2014), and NASA Ames Research Center, California (2014 - 2016).
12 February 2020 - Communicating with both Astronauts on the Moon and Rovers on Mars directly from the UK
Abstract: The next decade will see humans returning to the Moon and more robotic landers and rovers on both the lunar surface as well as Mars. This increased traffic, as well as the need to service the existing assets around the solar system, will put pressure on the NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) antenna infrastructure. Goonhilly, in Cornwall, is working alongside the ESA to convert a 32m diameter dish into a Deep Space Network compatible antenna. This asset will sit alongside ESA’s established network and support the expanding institutional and commercial science and exploration missions. The project is funded by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, which is the public body responsible for growth and development of the Cornish region, given the project’s potential to rejuvenate and attract highly skilled jobs into the area. The project timescales are such that the system can be used in support of Cubesat missions delivered by the Artemis-1 mission, that will also deliver Orion to Lunar Orbit for the start of return humans to the surface of the Moon. This talk describes the technical challenges of the project and how the completed system will allow communications to the Lunar and Martian surface from UK.
The Lecturer: Matthew is Chief Technology Officer at Goonhilly Earth Station ltd in Cornwall, where he works to expanding capabilities at the site including the deep space communications, orbit tracking, and development of new communication systems. He was previously Chief Communications Engineer for the QinetiQ Farnborough’s space group, where he was responsible for technical leadership of the planetary communications team, including the UHF transceiver on ESA's ExoMars project. He read Physics with Space Science and Technology at the University of Leicester and has worked in the space industry for over 20 years. Matthew is also the UK Space Agency representative on the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (http://ccsds.org ) and the UK delegate for Interagency Operations Advisory Group (http://ioag.org). Both organisations bring together the world space agencies to create the policies and infrastructure to ensure their space systems all work together.
18 March 2020 - The Colour and the Shape: Understanding galaxy evolution through simple observations of the Local Universe.
Dr. Nicolas Bonne
Abstract: There are an estimated 2 trillion galaxies in the observable universe. Each galaxy is unique, so understanding why a galaxy looks the way that it does, and understanding the internal workings of any given galaxy can seem like a daunting task. Galaxies in the local universe have provided astronomers with some of the most detailed galaxy studies to date, due to the simple fact that they are close enough to observe in great detail, and can be morphologically classified. As well as visual imagery, I will provide physical props and tactile representations of data for audience members to interact with, as well as sonifications of phenomena, to demonstrate how a few simple observations of nearby galaxy properties like general galaxy shape and galaxy optical colour can help us start to unravel these mysteries. I will discuss what we can learn about the past, present and future of these complex systems, but why assuming too much about what we can see can be misleading.
The Lecturer: Dr Nic Bonne is a blind, Australian astrophysicist and outreach officer based at the University of Portsmouth whose research area is galaxy evolution. Nic is currently project lead for The Tactile Universe - a public engagement project to make current astrophysics research accessible to people with visual impairments. Nic also works as an advisor and consultant on a number of other national and international VI accessible astronomy projects.
22 April 2020 - The human body in long term space flight on the ISS
Abstract: Ever since we have turned our attentions to space, and particularly once the decision was made to start human space flight, we have known that living in microgravity will have effects upon the human body. this lecture will cover the human body’s adaptations to life in space; some of the challenges that are faced, such as increased body temperature, changes to the cardiovascular system; and then focus on effects of microgravity on the musculoskeletal system. Featuring an ongoing study being conducted by University of Southampton, Charité University (Berlin) in partnership with the European space agency, NASA and the UK Space Agency. Changes in muscle characteristics are being monitored through the novel use of a device known as the MyotonPRO (measuring mechanical properties) and ultrasound imaging (measuring muscle size) across the three phases of an ISS mission. This will allow us to have a greater understanding of the effects of microgravity on muscles. The eventual aim is to aid the design of astronauts’ personalised daily exercise routines more specifically whilst on the ISS and post flight, to optimise muscle function and enable closer monitoring on future long-distance space missions.
The Lecturer: Paul is a Research Fellow and PhD student in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Southampton. He is a researcher on the Muscle Tone in Space (Myotones) project, working with Prof Maria Stokes and Dr Martin Warner in Southampton and a team in Germany, led by Prof Dieter Blottner. This study monitors astronauts’ muscular health before, during, and after their mission to the International Space Station. Paul took part in the first ever ultrasound measurements in space, guided remotely from Earth, and has now lead several further sessions with the astronauts on the ISS. Paul’s research interests include: the biomechanics of movement and physiology of motor control; understanding the implementation and uses of Movement Screening tools; the importance of physical activity and the barriers to and facilitators of participation and adherence; prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries; the use of Myoton technology and ultrasound imaging in understanding muscle characteristics, in health and disorders, in various populations. Paul is funded by the Science & Technology Facilities Council/UK Space Agency for his role in the Myotones project and the Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis Research Versus Arthritis for his work on movement quality and injury prevention.
20 May 2020 - Plasma: Barriers for Space Exploration and Gifts for Human from the Universe
Dr Min Kwan Kim
Abstract: Plasma, which is an ionised gas, is the most common state of matters in the universe. On the space exploration missions such as planetary entry, plasma brings us technical challenges by causing harsh environment and interrupting communications, knows as ‘radio blackout’. However, the special type of plasmas, which is known as ‘non-thermal plasma’, brings us the innovative solution for urgent global problems on public health and environment. Dr Minkwan Kim (University of Southampton) will show you novel aerospace technologies to overcome the challenges of planetary entry caused by plasmas, and explore the next generation of medicine and environment remediation technologies using plasmas.
The Lecturer: Dr Minkwan Kim is a Lecture in Astronautics as the University of Southampton. His research focuses on plasma and weakly ionised gas dynamics for space and biomedical applications. He is currently a member of the Plasmadynamics and Laser (PDL) Technical Committee (TC) in the AIAA. He earned his PhD from the University of Michigan in 2009. He has worked at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR, 2010 - 2012) and University of Adelaide, Australia (2012 - 2016). In particular, he is one of the frontiers in a plasma communication which is using MHD (Magneto Hydrodynamic) effect to solve the radio blackout problem during planetary entry/re-entry.