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RAS PN05/34: JUNE ASTRONOMY & SPACE DIGEST

Last Updated on Monday, 30 January 2006 10:49
Published on Thursday, 26 May 2005 00:00
RASlogo.JPGThis release contains a summary of some significant astronomical and space events that will be taking place during June. It 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.




3 JUNE - 16 JULY: SPACE @ THE PLACE
The Place, Letchworth's Art Centre announces an exhibition of fine art based on the theme of "Space". The exhibition will be open to the public between 3 June and 16 July 2005.

The exhibition is being curated by Dr. Bob Parkinson, one of Britain's leading space engineers and himself an artist. The work is drawn from members of the International Association of Astronomical artists. Dr Parkinson says "The IAAA was founded in 1982 by a group who were exploring the fascinating territory where science and art overlap. Since it's founding, the IAAA has grown to over 120 members in 20 different countries, with many different styles and viewpoints. Early Space Art inspired a generation of scientists and engineers to want to explore Outer Space. It is hoped that the present exhibition will serve to inspire a younger generation to look at science and art in a new light."

The work on show will cover a wide range of space and astronomical themes and illustrate not only scientific but philosophical aspects of space. The exhibition is jointly sponsored by EADS Astrium and The British Interplanetary Society. The theme of the exhibition provides opportunity for an interesting educational perspective and the sponsors have kindly agreed to part fund a programme of visits and workshops for local schools over the six weeks period, which will be mainly science-based and integrate with the theme of the exhibition.

The Place is situated at 18 - 20 Leys Avenue, Letchworth Garden City, and is open to the public Tuesday - Thursday 10 am to 6 pm, and Friday - Saturday 10 am to 4 pm.

CONTACTS:
Andrew Davies
Administrator, The Place
Tel: +44 (0)1462-670788
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alistair Scott
Director (UK), Communications and PR, EADS SPACE
EADS Astrium, Gunnels Wood Road,
Stevenage, Herts, SG1 2AS
Tel: +44 (0)1438-773698
Mob: +44 (0)7887-826264
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Suszann Parry
Executive Secretary
The British Interplanetary Society
27/29 South Lambeth Road
LONDON SW8 1SZ
Tel: +44 (0)207-735-3160
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


8 JUNE: VISIONS IN THE DESERT - THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK AS A TESTING GROUND FOR FUTURE MARS MISSIONS
On Wednesday 8 June, Guy Murphy of the Mars Society Australia will be speaking to the British Interplanetary Society. The talk will take place at BIS headquarters, 27/29 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1SZ, starting at 7 pm.

The Australian outback contains some of the most Mars-like environments on Earth and could serve as an important testing ground for future robotic and human Mars missions. This presentation examines analogue research studies being undertaken by the Mars Society Australia, including the Starchaser Marsupial analogue rover and the MarsOz simulated Mars base.

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21 JUNE: LAUNCH OF COSMOS 1, THE WORLD’S FIRST SOLAR SAIL SPACECRAFT
Cosmos 1, the world’s first solar sail spacecraft, is currently scheduled for launch on 21 June. When fully deployed, it will comprise 8 triangular sails, each 15 m (50 feet) in length, configured like spokes around a central spacecraft. The sails will be deployed by inflatable tubes once the spacecraft is in orbit. The spacecraft will be launched from a submerged Russian submarine in the Barents Sea. It will be carried into orbit on board a Volna rocket - a converted ICBM left over from the old Soviet arsenal.

Cosmos 1 will orbit the Earth at an altitude of over 800 km (500 ml). It will gradually raise its orbit by solar sailing - using the pressure of photons (light particles) from the Sun upon its luminous sails. The spacecraft is being built in Russia by NPO Lavochkin under contract to The Planetary Society. Cosmos Studios is the project's sole sponsor. The mission will demonstrate the feasibility of solar sail flight, hopefully opening the way to interplanetary travel and someday - sailing to the stars.

A solar sail is a spacecraft without an engine - it is pushed along directly by light particles from the Sun, reflecting off giant mirror-like sails. Because it carries no fuel and keeps accelerating over almost unlimited distances, it is the only technology now in existence that can one day take us to the stars.

CONTACT:
Andy Lound
Planetary Society (GB) Regional Coordinator


21 JUNE: WORKSHOP ON SURVEYS OF DARK ENERGY
The Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) at the University of Portsmouth will host a one day workshop on future observations of dark energy. The meeting will run from
9 am to 6 pm on 21 June. It will focus on the present constraints on dark energy and on planned or proposed dark energy experiments in various fields, including large scale structure, weak lensing, supernovae, clusters and the microwave background.

The meeting will follow the 2005 Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) collaboration meeting being held in Portsmouth 17-20 June . The plan is to bring together scientists from the SDSS and UK communities with common interests in dark energy to discuss and debate future observational surveys. In addition to review talks by Daniel Eisenstein (ASU), Josh Frieman (Fermilab) and Andy Taylor (Edinburgh), there will be opportunities for talks on specific dark energy projects, such as AAOmega, DES, DarkCam, SKA, WFMOS and future supernova observations. One of the aims of the meeting is to help coordinate the UK dark energy effort.

CONTACT:
Bob Nichol, Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation
Univ. of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, PO1 2EG
Tel: +44 (0)23-9284 3117
Mob: +44 (0)7963-792049

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26 JUNE: LAUNCH OF ASTRO-E2 X-RAY OBSERVATORY
The Astro-E2 X-ray observatory is scheduled for launch aboard a Japanese M-V rocket between 26 June and 2 August. Observing the X-ray spectrum of the distant universe, Astro-E2 will open a new window into the workings of black holes, neutron stars, active galaxies, and other very energetic objects.

Astro-E2 is a joint effort of the Japanese space agency JAXA/ISAS and NASA. It replaces the Astro-E observatory which was lost during a launch mishap in February 2000. NASA is providing the core instrument, the high resolution X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS). The XRS will be the first X-ray microcalorimeter array to be placed in orbit. It measures the heat created by individual X-ray photons.

The XRS operates at a temperature of 65 mK, which is only 1/10 degree above absolute zero. It is held at this temperature by a three-stage cooling system developed jointly by NASA and the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Japan. The cryogenic system is capable of maintaining the temperature of the microcalorimeter array for about two years in orbit. Japan is providing the other instruments on Astro-E2: a set of four X-ray cameras and a high-energy X-ray detector. NASA is also providing the five X-ray telescopes required to focus X-rays on the XRS and the X-ray cameras.

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27 JUNE - 1 JULY: “HIGH ENERGIES IN THE HIGHLANDS” WORKSHOP
Astrophysicists from the UK, Europe and the United States will be participating in a the workshop "High Energies in the Highlands", which takes place in Fort William 27 June - 1 July. The workshop focuses on the X-ray/gamma-ray spectra and variability of black holes and neutron stars. It includes a fresh look at the similarities and differences between these sources and discussions about the most recent discoveries, both in observations and theory.

CONTACT:
Marek Gierlinski (Univ. of Durham)

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30 JUNE - 3 JULY: BRITISH FESTIVAL OF SPACE
The second British Festival of Space will take place on the 30 June - 3 July 2005 and is being held at Thinktank Museum of Science and Discovery, Birmingham. The outline programme includes:
30 June: - A tradeshow for the space industry, providing an opportunity to showcase UK science and technology to the media and decision makers.
1 July: - Activities, workshops and careers information for school groups aimed at KS2-KS4.
2-3 July: - Hands-on activities, talks, shows and exhibitions aimed at the general public.

CONTACT:
Anita Heward
Braemar House, Braemar Close
Godalming, Surrey GU7 1SA
Tel: +44 (0)1483-420904