21 Oct 2014

NASA astronaut's mission to The Open University

Pupils from local secondary schools, academics and students had an opportunity to meet a real life NASA astronaut in a special public lecture at The Open University (OU) on Tuesday 21 October 2014.

Astronaut and planetary space scientist, Dr. Stanley G. Love shared his experience of Solar System exploration and training, shedding light on what it takes to train for a career that is quite literally, out of this world.

‘Spaceflight analogues: Solar System exploration on planet Earth’ introduced the audience to Dr. Love’s experience of spaceflight analogues – simulated space missions organised in extreme terrestrial conditions – from the Arizona Desert and a Canadian mountain lake, to the sea bed off the coast of Florida and the polar icecap of Antarctica. The lecture was broadcast live to colleges, schools and universities across the country.

Selected by NASA as an astronaut in June 1998 and completing his first spaceflight in 2008 on the crew of the STS-122 – the 24th shuttle mission to visit the International Space Station (ISS) – Dr. Love has spent more than 306 hours in space, including more than 15 hours of extra-vehicular activity (EVA) or spacewalks. He was part of a team of astronauts that installed the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Columbus laboratory on the ISS.

Speaking after his public lecture, Dr. Love, said:

“The continued exploration of our Solar System is central to our understanding of how the Earth was formed and, ultimately, the origins of life on our planet. Spaceflight analogues have helped to inform and develop new scientific techniques in our preparation for future space exploration of near-Earth asteroids and the planet Mars.

“It’s fantastic to be able to share my passion for planetary science with fellow academics at The Open University and have the opportunity to inspire future generations to learn more about the science beyond our atmosphere.”

Dean of the Faculty of Science at the OU, Professor Hazel Rymer, said:

“Dr. Love’s visit reinforces the Faculty of Science’s links with international planetary and space research. Many of the best-known scientists visit the OU, but rarely do we have an opportunity to meet an astronaut and scientist who is currently working in the field.

“For OU students and pupils from local secondary schools, meeting a scientist who has flown in the Space Shuttle and participated in spacewalks is an inspiration!”

Dr. Love’s visit has been made possible through the collaborative partnership between the OU, the National Space Centre in Leicester, SEPnet, the Space Research Centre and the University of Leicester. The National Space Centre and the University of Leicester will also host two days of events on Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 October 2014.

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