23 Jan 2009

The Open University brings the Moon to Milton Keynes for key conference

Professor John Zarnecki

Professor John Zarnecki

The Open University is holding this year’s UK Moon Meeting on Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd February 2009 at its Walton Hall campus.

Recent times have seen unprecedented progress in the field of lunar exploration led by Japan’s Kaguya (SELENE) mission, followed by China’s Chang'e-1 and India's Chandryaan-1 missions so it promises to be an exciting and informative event.

NASA is planning to launch their LRO mission in Spring 2009. In addition, the establishment of the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) has given a new impetus to the lunar science and exploration community not only within the USA but also internationally through their affiliate and associate membership schemes.

The UK lunar science community has significant involvements in India's mission whilst pursuing their own plans for the MoonLITE mission targeted for launch in 2014.

One of the main aims of the two-day meeting is to build on the successful previous meeting, also held at the Open University in September 2007, that brought together the UK lunar science community, potential industrial partners, and personnel from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), each of whom hold a stake in various aspects of lunar science and exploration. In addition, lunar experts from various countries engaged in lunar missions are also expected to attend this meeting and discuss the latest initiatives and theories.

One of the highlights of the meeting will be a public lecture by Chris Riley, director and producer of the award-winning documentary In the Shadow of the Moon on the making of the film.

John Zarnecki, Professor of Space Science at The Open University said:
“I remember watching the Moon landings as a young student and little did I expect that, 40 years later, I’d be organising a national meeting focussing on the science and technology of the return to the Moon!

“Having spent the last 15 years working on a mission to Titan, a moon of Saturn, its wonderful to be able to turn my attention to a fascinating object in our own backyard.

“Some people think we know all there is to know about our Moon but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We now think that the Moon may even have preserved some samples from the very early Earth and therefore give us a window into our own early history, a history which we have lost here on Earth because of the dynamic changing nature of our planet.”

Dr Mahesh Anand, Academic Fellow with the Faculty of Science at The Open University said: “Through this Moon meeting our main aim is to bring together the UK lunar community on a common platform to discuss their involvements in current and future lunar science and exploration programmes. The meeting will also provide an opportunity to UK as well as foreign participants to present recent results obtained from various lunar missions and laboratory based works on lunar meteorites and rock samples brought back by Apollo astronauts.

“We are also looking forward to hearing from the Directors of the recently established NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) about various opportunities that now exist for international collaboration on lunar projects through an affiliate membership scheme of the NLSI.”

Delegates wishing to attend the meeting should contact Tracey Ward to register. Registration is free but delegates are advised to register early to secure their attendance.

Notes to Editors

In The Shadow of The Moon won the World Cinema Audience Award at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and the Sir Arthur C Clarke Award for Best Film Presentation in 2008.

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