QMUL hosts SpaceUp London 2017

On Saturday 10 June, space enthusiasts gathered at Queen Mary University of London for SpaceUp London 2017. The day-long space extravaganza, organised by the Planetary Society, was filled with keynote talks, quick-fire talks, breakout discussions, brainstorms, and other opportunities for guests to engage with one another. The audience consisted of medics, theatre students, virtual reality experts, amateur astronomers, satellite companies, and more. 

The day began with a talk by Tom Kerss, an astronomer from the Royal Observatory Greenwich, entitled What We Are Made Of, in which he explained how the atoms that make us up are forged in stars and that we are each truly part of the cosmos.  

Daniel Grant, a doctor at the Centre for Altitude Space and Extreme Environment Medicine, spoke about the effects of space on the human body, using a supply of chocolate bars to explain that in space human legs go from being like a Crunchie to being more like an Aero. He also demonstrated the difficulty of balancing in space by inviting a volunteer to try spinning with their eyes closed and their head tilted to one side (try it!). 

Science and humour combined when comedian, impersonator, and astronomy enthusiast Jon Culshaw took the stage for a conversation with Planetary Society Outreach Coordinator and QMUL student, Harriet Brettle. Guests were treated to a range of fun anecdotes complete with impersonations of Brian Cox, Sir Patrick Moore, Carl Sagan, and David Attenborough.

The discussion sessions covered a wide variety of topics, from the importance of mental health for astronauts, to the issue of light pollution in London, to space satellite imaging. In the quick-fire presentations, participants expounded on their favorite space topics. One amateur astronomer described the popular interest in exoplanets, while another attendee proposed that Saturn’s moon Titan should be our focus. During the day there was lively discussion around colonising Mars, asteroid mining, satellite applications, and human evolution in space. Lunar Mission One trustee David Iron explained his vision of a permanent archive of human life under the Moon’s south pole. 

Exhibits included the European Space Agency’s Couture in Orbit project — a display of fashion pieces inspired by and incorporating space technology — and the Square Kilometre Array provided virtual reality headsets for people to experience an immersive perspective of their enormous telescope project.

The final presentation of the day, by Bee Hayes-Thakore, Board member of the Planetary Society, described how the Planetary Society has grown into a global organisation, educating, advocating, and innovating across the world.

SpaceUp events can be organised by anyone, anywhere. For more information, see their website.