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RAS PN06/42: Space & Astronomy Digest January 2007

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 December 2013 20:40
Published on Friday, 29 December 2006 00:00

This release contains a summary of some significant astronomical and space events that will be taking place during January. It includes an ESA-BNSC workshop to discuss the future of Europe's exploration strategy and the year's first RAS meetings.

3 JANUARY: QUADRANTID METEOR SHOWER
The Quadrantid meteor shower will occur from 1st – 6th January, probably reaching maximum activity for a few hours either side of midnight on the night of 3 – 4 January. The hourly rate can range from 45 to 200.

The Quadrantids emanate from the constellation of Boötes, located just beyond the end of the handle of the Plough, but they get their name from a now defunct constellation called Quadrans Muralis. They are rich in faint meteors and are of moderate speed. They may be debris from a recently discovered asteroid or inert comet known as 2003 EH1. Unfortunately, viewing conditions this year are rather unfavourable, since the peak of activity occurs near full Moon, making it difficult to observe the fainter meteors.   

The Quadrantid radiant is circumpolar from the latitudes of the British Isles, meaning that activity can be seen throughout the night. However, the radiant never reaches a high altitude for most northern hemisphere observers.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
 
Gary Kronk’s Meteor web site:
http://comets.amsmeteors.org/meteors/showers/quadrantids.html  
 
 
3 JANUARY: EARTH AT PERIHELION
Earth will be at perihelion, the closest point in its orbit to the Sun, at around 20:00 GMT on 3 January. It will then be approximately 147 million km from the Sun – about 5 million km closer than it will be at aphelion (its furthest point) on 7 July.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
Science @ NASA:
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast04jan_1.htm  
 
The Seasons and the Earth’s Orbit:
http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/seasons_orbit.html
 
 
4-5 JANUARY: ASTROPHYSICAL CHEMISTRY GROUP ANNUAL MEETING - DUST, GAS AND CHEMISTRY IN SPACE
The Astrophysical Chemistry Group of the RAS and RSC will be holding its Annual Meeting, entitled “Dust, Gas And Chemistry In Space”, at the School of Mathematics & Physics, Queen’s University Belfast, 4-5 January. The meeting will include talks and posters on topics relating to the role that dust grains play in the chemistry of space, including the solar system and the interstellar medium.
 
Invited Speakers:
*  Eric Herbst, Ohio State University - The role of surface chemistry in the formation
    of large interstellar molecules and the growth of grain mantles.
*  Klaus Pontoppidan, Caltech, USA - New results from ice mapping of water, CO,
    and CO2 in protostellar cores.
*  Liv Hornekaer, Aarhus University, Netherlands - H2 formation on dust grains
    under PDR and post-shock conditions.
*  Martin McCoustra, Heriot-Watt University - Laboratory studies of desorption
    processes from model interstellar ices.
 
CONTACT
Dr. Helen Fraser
Department of Physics
University of Strathclyde
Glasgow Tel: +44 (0)141 548 3420
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


FURTHER INFORMATION
Meeting web site:
http://www.astrochemistry.org.uk/belfast_meeting.htm  
 
 
8 - 9 JANUARY: ESA/BNSC EXPLORATION WORKSHOP, EDINBURGH;
10 JANUARY: ESA/BNSC PRESS BRIEFING
On 8 and 9 January, ESA and BNSC will be holding a workshop at the George Hotel in Edinburgh at the start of a series of consultations with key stakeholders. The aim is to define European long-term strategy for space exploration and set the scene for the decisions to be taken at the ESA Council meeting at ministerial level scheduled for 2008.
 
ESA has been working on the Aurora programme as a framework for space exploration for several years, and aims to make space exploration a global and societal project. European drivers and priorities would be defined following consultation with, and the commitment of, four stakeholder communities: scientific; political and institutional; industrial and innovation-related; and the general public and youth. 
 
Representatives of these four groups, from all around Europe and worldwide, will be given a presentation of the current and future ESA plans and discuss a compelling rationale for Europe to play a significant role in the global space exploration endeavour.
 
Further to NASA's unveiling of its lunar exploration architecture on 4 December, ESA will define a broader scenario that will include the Moon as an important exploration target and an unavoidable stepping-stone for the human exploration of further destinations. European space exploration architectures will be derived from these scenarios, taking into account the industrial, scientific and societal interests expressed by the stakeholders in consultations like the one in Edinburgh.

On 10 January, the outcome of the ESA/BNSC European Exploration Workshop will be debated in a press conference starting at 11:30 at the Franklin Theatre (76 Portland Place, London W1B 1NT). There, the results of the workshop and, in particular, the European priorities and drivers, will be presented by leading figures of the scientific, political and institutional, and industrial and innovation scene.
 
Media representatives wishing to attend this press conference should fill in an accreditation form (found on the ESA web site – see below) and return it by fax to the ESA Media Relations Office (FAO Anne-Marie Rémondin) by Friday 5 January 2007.
 
CONTACT
For press queries, contact:
Gill Ormrod
PPARC press officer
Tel: +44 (0)1793-442-012
Mob: +44 (0)781-8013-509
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
ESA web site:
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMSWMQJNVE_index_0.html  
 
PPARC press release:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Nw/ELTSfSE.asp  
 
 
10 – 12 JANUARY: NUMMI'07 - NEUTRINO MASS MEASUREMENTS AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS
The Winter 06/07 Collaboration Meeting of the European Network of Theoretical Astroparticle Physics will be hosted by the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology, part of the University of Durham, from 10 – 12 January.
 
CONTACT:
Silvia Pascoli
University of Durham
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
Meeting web site:
http://www.ippp.dur.ac.uk/nummi07/  

 
12 JANUARY:  RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING - LINKAGES BETWEEN THE SOLAR INTERIOR AND ATMOSPHERE
A Specialist Discussion Meeting entitled “Linkages Between The Solar Interior And Atmosphere” will be held in the Geological Society lecture theatre, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1 on 12 January, 10.30 – 15.30.
 
Study of the linkage between the solar interior and atmosphere is one of the science priorities of the PPARC 2002 – 2012 Solar System Science Strategy roadmap. The linkage is most conspicuous in the magnetic field, which, having been generated in the solar interior by dynamo action, penetrates the surface and ‘holds’ the atmosphere together.  The pervasive influence of the magnetic field can be studied ‘externally’ in observations of structures, and events, in the solar atmosphere; and ‘internally’, via the small frequency, power and damping perturbations given to the acoustic (p) modes. An understanding of the interior-exterior linkage is vital for informing theories of the solar activity cycle, with clear inputs to the field of solar-terrestrial relations.

Studies of aspects of the linkage cover an exciting range of topics, from the fundamental, underpinning dynamo theory, to atmospheric waves and transients.  There will also be an opportunity to discuss opportunities arising from the next-generation solar physics missions, such as the Solar Dynamics Observatory and Hinode (Solar-B).
          
CONTACTS:
Dr. Bill Chaplin
University of Birmingham
Tel: +44 (0)121-414-4599
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Prof. Louise Harra
MSSL-UCL
Tel: +44 (0)1483-204141
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

FURTHER INFORMATION
Meeting web site:
http://bison.ph.bham.ac.uk/%7Ewjc/Research/ras_soldisc07.html  
 

12 JANUARY:  RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING
A Specialist Discussion Meeting entitled “Molecular Probes of Galaxies” will be held in the Society of Antiquaries lecture theatre, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1 on 12 January, 10.30 – 15.30.

CONTACTS:
Dr. Serena Viti
MSSL-UCL
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Dr. David Williams
University College London
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


12 JANUARY: RAS MONTHLY A&G (ORDINARY) MEETING
The RAS A&G (Ordinary) Meeting will take in the Geological Society Lecture Theatre, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1 on 12 January, 16.00 – 18.00.
Talks will include:
*  Prof. Andrew Collier Cameron (St. Andrews) - New planets from SuperWASP.
*  Dr. Ian A. Crawford (Birkbeck) - The Scientific Case for Renewed Robotic and
    Human Exploration of the Moon.
*  Dr. Pete Grinrod (University College London) - Does Titan erupt like Io? A new
    model for explosive volcanism on Titan.
*  Prof. R. L. Davies (Oxford) - A new paradigm for early type galaxies.
 
 
24 JANUARY - SCIENCE ON LOW COST SPACE MISSIONS WORKSHOP
The PPARC KITE Club is hosting a workshop on the potential science returns from low-cost space platforms on 24 January.  The workshop will be held at One Great George Street, Westminster, London.
 
There are numerous financial pressures on the European Space Agency (ESA) science programme. It has often been argued that the key science goals of PPARC and NERC are only achievable on sizeable missions. The UK has demonstrated strength in industrial capability for low-cost platforms together with both industrial and academic strength in low-cost or miniaturised instrumentation. So how far could we achieve the science objectives of Cosmic Visions and future Earth Observation programmes with lower cost platforms?
 
This workshop will be of interest to:
* The space industry, instrumentation, aerospace and defence suppliers with
   technologies to offer in low-cost space satellites and miniaturised instrumentation;
* The space science, earth observation, space exploration and fundamental physics
   academic communities with interests in space-based experimental platforms;
* Other sectors with interest in low-cost deployment of instruments in space.
 
CONTACT
Nathan Hill
PPARC
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
Workshop web site:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk/In/SLCSM.asp  

 
NOTE FOR EDITORS
This release has been written in order to assist the media in planning and researching future stories related to space science and astronomy, particularly those with UK involvement. It is not intended to be fully comprehensive. Dates and times may be subject to change.