Creating Communication: Blogging for Science

All, Creating Communication, science communication, Space

I recently interviewed EJR-Quartz colleague Daniel Scuka to discuss the field of science blogging. Daniel works as Senior Editor for Spacecraft Operations at ESOCESA’s Space Operations Centre in Germany. He had a wealth of information and advice to share on the best ways to blog, why it is a wonderful method of communication and also mentioned the challenges he has faced when blogging for science.

A sad Daniel on his last day blogging for ATV. (Credit: @AndreasSchepers )

A sad Daniel on his last day blogging for ATV. (Credit: @AndreasSchepers )

Daniel has been writing on the dedicated blog for ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) series of missions since 2007. Responsible for delivering cargo and reboosting the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit, the last ATV re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on 15th February 2015.

So Daniel, what exactly is ATV used for?

First of all, the ATV vessels are used to deliver cargo and supplies to the International Space Station. An ATV docks for about five or six months, comprising the so-called attached phase. There’s dry cargo that is carried inside the cargo compartment, including food, clothing, supplies and equipment for experiments on board the ISS. It also supplies wet goods, which is fuel, air, oxygen, gases, nitrogen, water and as all of that gets delivered to the ISS, garbage and waste gets loaded onto the ATV. So, when it undocks it takes all of this off the Station and it burns up in the atmosphere.

ATV has a thruster system so it can reboost the Station which naturally steadily decays with each orbit. Furthermore, it can be used to provide debris avoidance manoeuvres when any space debris  are predicted to come too close — then the ATV’s thrusters can be used to either raise or lower its orbit avoid whatever piece of debris is coming over. That’s ATV in a nutshell.

What’s so special about this particular ATV, ATV-5?

When ATV-5 was launched last July, it was the heaviest payload ever put in space by

ATV5 re-entry coincided with Valentines weekend. A lovely way to say goodbye don't you think? (ESA)

ATV5 re-entry coincided with Valentines weekend. A lovely way to say goodbye don’t you think?
(ESA)

Europe (weighing in with a mass of 20,245 kilograms). It’s interesting that the last of the five ATV vessels ended up being the biggest and the baddest.

What are the challenges of communicating technical topics to a general audience?

Well, knowing who your audience is, is rather important and you absolutely have to accept the fact that you will never satisfy your entire audience all the time because the audience for this kind of information or for what ESA does with space is so diverse.

Secondly – there’s a whole range of requirements to be satisfied there in the sense of knowing who is actually the right person to provide that kind of information. Therefore, as the blog editor, you’ve got to make sure that when you’re getting information, you then turn around and publish it in the right way: don’t quote the junior engineer working on the ATV propulsion system about the value of why the ISS flies at all. Conversely, a high-level programme manager may not know the details of how the propulsion system works, so maintaining contact with those working-level engineers can be pretty valuable. I don’t think that this is unique to ESA and it’s not a bad thing either. If you do want to quote about the value of flying ATV or Europe participating in the ISS, go to the source.

The third challenge has been technical because when we started off our blog, it was literally sitting on a server underneath somebody’s desk. It crashed a lot and it  took a long time to get the technology right. Now it’s finally properly hosted and properly

backed up. Now the only time it occasionally crashes is when it gets overwhelmed by NASA retweeting one of our posts such as this one – How many calories does it take to bring a calorie to the ISS?

Can you give any tips or advice on blogging for aspiring and practising science communicators out there?

1. Get your facts right. Be humble when it’s pointed out to you that you have got them wrong.

2. Understand your audience as best as you can and adapt how and what you write or publish to match your audience. Be dynamic, don’t just simply follow some kind of monolithic style that you think is the right style on Day 1, adapt your style over time because you’ll find that your audience is never monolithic.

3. Know your topic, know your domain. If you’re doing science communications, you’re talking about some specific domain. Find out who’s not providing some needed information and that’s where you’re really going to prove valuable.

One last question, what is your favourite ATV vessel?

I guess the first one and that’s because there was no way to test the ATVs in-flight prior to the  actual ATV-1’s launch. Every single line of code, every single mission activity, every single button that was pressed at ATV-CC was monitored by NASA and Russia to ensure that ATV was safe and that the ATV Control Centre team – staffed by ESA and CNES, the French space agency – knew their stuff.  I think in retrospect that it was the most impressive vessel in the series because it put the ATV design through everything it could do then and since then, they’ve all performed flawlessly and they’ve all done what they were meant to do. So ATV-1 was probably the most impressive and my favourite. Also, the ATV-1 mission was our first intro into blogging and our learning curve was certainly the steepest so that has given me lots of fond memories.

atvblog

A screenshot of the official ESA dedicated ATV blog updated by Daniel and other editors on the science and stories of ATV since 2007. (http://blogs.esa.int/atv/)

So there you have it! An insight into the world of science blogging from an expert who has spent almost a decade communicating the wonders of ATV in blog form. Blogs are definitely here to stay, it seems 🙂

-Nikita

An edited version of this article originally appeared online at EJR-Quartz.
Advertisements

The Space Generation Advisory Council

Communications, Copy Editor, Job, personal, science communication, SGAC, Space, Space Generation Advisory Council, Space Generation Congress, Toronto, un, United Nations, Young generation
 

You may have seen my blog post on the Space Generation Congress (SGC) back in October in Toronto this year. Organised by the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), it’s the place to be if you’re a student or young professional interested in the key issues in space of this generation.

I am happy to say that I have recently been selected as one of the organisation’s Copy Editors. Joined by 5 other peers, we will work alongside the existing Copy Editors to shape the documents and papers presented around the world on behalf of space professionals and students.

 

Comprised of volunteer students and young professionals in the space industry from over 100 countries across the globe, SGAC is the voice of the space generation of today – the space sector leaders of tomorrow. The network connects us to leaders in the United Nations (UN), space agencies and academia. Working in conjunction with the United Nations Committee  on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPOUS), SGAC has the power to communicate ideas across disciplines, generations and oceans.

I’m very happy to join the SGAC team and help to shape the innovative work that is being done here.

-Nikita

I Love to Sail Forbidden Seas

carl sagan, Erik Wenquist, Exploration, Herman Melville, humans, Inspiration, Moby Dick, outreach, Quotes, science communication, Short Film, Space, video, Vimeo, Wanderers
//player.vimeo.com/video/108650530?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0&badge=0&color=ffffff

This famous quote by Herman Melville in Moby Dick is featured in this recently released short film named ‘Wanderers’. Narrated by the legend that is Carl Sagan, the magical film by Erik Wernquist is a window into the future of humanity as we evolve into the space-faring species we are destined to one day become. It is inspiring, stunning and most of all makes me think I was born a century too early!

 
-Nikita

Sunday Snippet

Antares Rocket, esa, Goals, Inspiration, Motivation, NASA, personal, Pinterest, Quotes, Rosetta mission, Space, Sunday Inspiration, Virgin Galactic

I’ve decided to start posting little Sunday snippets of inspiration every now and then. Sunday to me, is reflective of the week ahead. If you have a productive and positive Sunday, you’re all set for the week. I think that working in any industry, not only in the field of space and science, requires constant self-improvement and self-awareness  something that I think is made easier by thought-provoking quotes such as the one above. Stepping outside of my comfort zone is how I find that I grow as a person and I enjoy reading the occasional inspiring quote or two to remind myself of my goals and ambitions both professionally and personally.

 

This quote in particular really does apply to space too, especially with the bittersweet last few weeks we have had. The challenges and achievements of the Rosetta Mission, the unfortunate Virgin Galactic test flight and the Antares rocket failure demonstrates our need as humans to attempt what we have not attempted before. Making changes and triggering innovation really does take  big, courageous leaps of faith in order to reach what lies beyond our shores.


– Nikita

Catching a Comet – Rosetta Mission Landing Success!

#CometLanding, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, DLR, ESOC, european space agency, germany, Mission, Philae, Rosetta, Rosetta mission, Space, Universe
Today, history has been made as the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta Mission becomes the first spacecraft to land on the surface of a comet. After separating from its comet-chasing companion, Rosetta, lander Philae touched down on the mysterious surface after a nail-biting 7 hour descent. Philae has boldy gone where no human-built spacecraft has ever gone before. 
Dotted with large cliffs, boulders and jets of gas and dust, landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was no easy feat and was the most critical milestone in the decade long mission. Now that Philae is safely on the surface, it will use its instruments to conduct science and provide experts on Earth with clues into not only the comet’s history and origins but also our own. Humanity may well have begun with the help of comet seeding – the notion that a comet carrying water through the solar system collided into our planet, triggering life. We may soon be able to know the answer to this and many other secrets hidden in the treasure chest of knowledge that is comet 67P.
The possibilities are endless, and this mission marks the first of hopefully many momentous missions that really challenge us as a species and encourage us to work together as one to unlock the many mysteries of our Universe and protect our precious planet whilst we do so. Today I feel proud to not only be a part of this space-faring generation and a European, but most importantly to be human.

 

Now, that is one small step for Philae and one giant leap for mankind 🙂

 

-Nikita

Weekend Inspiration

ambition, career, changing the world., dreamers, happiness, life, love, optimist, positivity, science, Space, Weekend Inspiration, work
Weekend Inspiration

I think these words apply to any field of work, dream or ambition and any person who knows that they want their life to have had some sort of impact on the world, regardless how small. Believing that you, a single human being can make a difference in your short lifetime on  Earth is a magnificent one. Whenever I’m feeling uninspired I try to watch a TED talk or speak to someone else on a similar wavelength to me. In my case it’s wanting to make more people excited about space and science. Whatever your dream is, whether you’re an up-and-coming entrepreneur, promising writer, future doctor, aspiring actor or in any other budding career, the point is that you’re rising towards something. You’re wanting more and when you want something, working hard for it is worthwhile and eventually you will make it.

-Nikita

p.s: I’m going to be doing ‘Weekend Inspiration’ as a regular bit from now on. I’m quite the optimist so I hope that by reflecting this in my blog it will inspire others to think positively about themselves too.

Köln – The Human Side of Space at DLR & ESA

astronaut, astronaut training, Cologne, Deutsches Zeuntrum fur Luft und Raumfahrt, DLR, esa, European Astronaut Centre, european space agency, germany, Koln, Medicine, science, Space, space medicine, Travel

 I recently visited the beautiful German city of Köln (or Cologne). Sitting on both sides of the River Rhine, Köln has always been on my list of favourite cities in the world. Its unique skyline is a blend of quaint, historical architecture and modern, high-rise buildings  making it a European city definitely worth visiting. 

76659-img_20141027_212718

As well as being a cool city, Köln is also home to the headquarters of the German Space Agency or Deutsches zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) European Astronaut Centre (EAC) –  making it that much cooler if you ask me 🙂

During my time in Cologne, I visited both DLR HQ and the EAC ESA centre. The last time I came here was during the ESA Space Medicine Workshop in 2011 when I was still a Biology student at the University of Birmingham. It was great to return over 3 years later now that I work in the space industry and to see it with new, more knowledgeable eyes.

I paid a visit to the StABLE Study at DLR in particular. The study aims to investigate the impact of a changing rotational axis upon brain perfusion and fluid shift to the lower extremities. In essence, it is trying to figure out the extent to which the Short-Arm Human Centrifuge (SAHC) can be used as a potential countermeasure to the negative impacts of space on the human body. 

Ranging from muscle and bone loss to fluid shift, the SAHC is proposed as an ideal countermeasure to these space side-effects thanks to its short radius. Yet, the extent to which it may be so is still unknown. I watched subjects being spun for science at DLR  work that will better enable scientists to understand the effects of this centrifuge on the human body, especially when the central point of rotation is altered.

Next up on my space agency tour of Köln was the EAC. Home to all things astronaut — the ESA centre is in fact led by ESA astronaut Frank de Winne. As a powerhouse of human spaceflight, the EAC is where astronauts are selected, trained and provided with medical care & support for themselves as well as their families both before and during their time in space.

The Neutral Buoyancy Facility at the EAC is used to simulate weightlessness during astronaut training. It is a great way for astronauts to practice spacewalking and although you can still feel the pull of gravity whilst underwater, it is the closest you can get to microgravity on Earth.

 I also pretended to be Commander of the Soyuz spacecraft – the vehicle that carries astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Developed for the Soviet Space Program in the 1960s, it is still in use today!

My friend Antonio Fortunato works in the position of EUROCOM – or European Spacecraft Communicator. Here, he relays information to the International Space Station from the Columbus Flight Control Team in Munich. When I was there, the station was threatened by a piece of debris – a problem that is unfortunately ever increasing. Teams on Earth worked hard to ensure that the space station successfully dodged the debris – using the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to conduct a debris avoidance maneuver – boosting the station to a higher orbit. Science: 1, Real-life Gravity movie: 0 

Another example of the work conducted by people on Earth for life in space is demonstrated by my friend Romain Charles (pictured above). He spent 520 days in crew isolation from 2010-2011 as part of the first simulation of a manned mission to Mars and back. Named Mars 500 – the psychological experiment kept the crew of 6 locked in their spacecraft as they simulated a return trip to the Red Planet. An incredible achievement!
As a key player in European space activities, Germany definitely is the place to be to learn more about human spaceflight. My trip to DLR and the EAC was a unique insight into the process, people and research involved with putting a human in orbit around Earth. The human side of space is very much present in Germany and I believe that such work is not only important, but vital to advancing as a species together – here on Earth and beyond.

Tschüss!

-Nikita

 

 

 

 

Disaster Playground: The Edge of Space Fiction with Nelly Ben Hayoun

Armageddon, Asteroid, Designer, Disaster Playground, Experience, Movie, Nelly Ben Hayoun, NEO, science communication, seti, Space, space safety magazine

You might have heard of French director and designer of experiences Nelly Ben Hayoun from her past creative concoctions such as the International Space Orchestra and her musical collaboration in space with Beck and Bobby Womack. Designing immersive experiences is her forté and her latest creation, Disaster Playground, is no exception. This creative platform explores the theme of catastrophic asteroid collision – both in real-life and Hollywood movies – dancing on the edge between space and fiction through an immersive exhibit and a feature film. Disaster Playground questions the notion of disaster and investigates the human response and cross-cultural reactions to the threat of potentially hazardous asteroids. I recently spoke to Nelly about this exciting new project.

“I am looking at designing ‘extreme experiences’ for the public in order for them to question what the future of space exploration might be, how could they make dark energy in their kitchen sink, and other surreal experiences,” explains Ben Hayoun. She also incorporates real-life space scientists and thinkers in her work. “Disaster Playground is a critical platform that engages the main actors of the project to reflect on their practice and get members of the public to engage with what the craft of space exploration is, who are the people ‘making’ it, and where is this all going?”

Dr. Peter Jenniskens, meteor showers specialist at the SETI Institute, and Director Nelly Ben Hayoun

Director Nelly Ben Hayoun (center) with Dr. Peter Jenniskens, meteor showers specialist at the SETI Institute, during disaster communication training at Disaster City, TEEX, Texas (Credits: Nelly Ben Hayoun/Nick Ballon).

The Real Armageddon

Disaster Playground: The Feature Documentary is about the scientists monitoring and planning the deflection of hazardous near Earth objects (NEO). It addresses the complex decision-making process of protecting the Earth from NEO impacts and the associated challenges. The plotline of the film follows the progress of NASA’s actual asteroid impact procedure. It depicts the chain of command required when there are only a few experts who understand the technology needed to tackle the threat of an asteroid collision with Earth.

“It is about the design of emergency procedures, nailing down who is in charge, who defines the procedures when things go wrong, and according to which rationale,” explains Ben Hayoun.

Ben Hayoun was inspired to create this film in response to pop culture views of space disaster such as the portrayal in the blockbuster Armageddon. In the film, Hollywood relied on Bruce Willis and a giant drill to save the world. How realistic is this and what is really needed to save our civilization from the next major asteroid impact? This is where Disaster Playground picks up the story, in what Ben Hayoun has dubbed space fiction.

“We are looking at the pop culture as a start and then we engage with the reality of each event, the real people who are the real Bruce Willis – thus the term space fiction,” she says. “The film aims to get you to engage critically with the human condition in place in the space program, the craft, the real people doing it, their quirkiness, their sometimes imperfect reactions, and their successes.”

Cowboy on red phone from Disaster Playground

The Stars of the Show

World-renowned space experts from NASA and the SETI Institute, as well as an all star team of composers, writers, and international collaborators, joined forces on this project. Names such as Dr. David Morrison, Director of the Carl Sagan Center and the SETI Institute; Dr. S. Pete Worden, Director of NASA Ames Research Center; Dr. Jacob Cohen, Chief Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center; and Dr. Jill Tarter, outgoing Director of the SETI Institute all reenact moments of discovery and key events from their research.

“Each of these scientists has a role in some form or shape with the chain of commands or the development of emergency responses…they informed the film and perform their role in the film,” says Ben Hayoun. “Basically, Disaster Playground is their film but it is directed to us. It is about sharing the experience of dealing with such decisions as: ‘Shall we send that asteroid there or there? Where shall we move it?’”

The Theater of Cruelty

Ben Hayoun has been called the “Willy Wonka of design and science” and her bold design practice has gathered the attention of many – including WIRED magazine, which awarded her its 2014 Innovation Fellowship. She carefully crafts creative modes of communication to explore the depths of design using the theme of space. She takes inspiration from French philosopher and socialist Jean Baudrillard and his text America, as well as dramaturges such as Antonin Artaud who introduced the concept of the Theater of Cruelty.

Ben Hayoun wanted to explore the moral ambiguity of using catastrophe to spark interest in space. The explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, for instance, created an iconic image. That billowing stream of smoke and flame symbolized a horrific loss of life and severe misstep in the US space program, but it also reignited public interest in that program.

“Our interest for such mortal catastrophe can be identified as a perverse human curiosity,” notes Ben Hayoun. “We believe that this perversity captures one crucial element of what the viewer wishes to see: how technology and humans can beautifully ‘fail’ and, in turn, cause us to reflect on the making behind our discoveries.” She uses just that phenomenon in her work, exploring the situations created when existential danger threatens. “I believe that, by taking an extreme approach, you really get the audience to actively engage with a cause or an area of research and that is what motivates me when it comes to space exploration.” Ben Hayoun hopes that engaging the public will lead to increased support for space. “I want to see the next woman on Mars or on an asteroid, and without public backing that will not happen.”

Disaster City training on asteroid impact response

The Disaster Playground Media

The theatre in which Disaster Playground is exhibited blends the various media forms the project assumes: documentary feature film, book, and exhibition. A visitor walking into the exhibit experiences live reenactments, journeys through landscapes, and interacts with props ranging from model spacecraft to live goldfish. “Each of the media is connecting various audiences: the film audience, the digital audience, the academic audience, the scientific audience, the graphic audience, the design audience…each of these audiences is very different and so are their needs. This project is engaging the public at various levels with various outcomes and each are tailored for them,” Ben Hayoun explains.

These elements work individually and together to produce the final creative platform that isDisaster Playground.

Astronaut Rusty Schweickart catches a model asteroid Itokawa

Reigniting Every Kid’s Dream

The importance of sharing the space program’s catastrophes and failures is the driving force behind Disaster Playground. Utilizing the perverse human curiosity and interest in mortal catastrophe is a beautifully twisted method through which we can learn from our failures and reflect on our discoveries.

Ben Hayoun’s primary goal is outreach. Whether as Designer of Experiences at the SETI Institute or sitting on the International Astronautical Federation Space Outreach and Education Committee, Ben Hayoun strives to engineer situations that generate disorder and critical thinking. She aims to reconnect the public with the dream and the vision behind space exploration – one experience at a time.

Disaster Playground was previewed at the Victoria & Albert Museum as part of the London Design Festival Digital Weekend event in September 2014 and will be part of Future Fictions, Exhibition at Z33, House for Contemporary Arts in Hasselt, Belgium October 5, 2014 through January 4, 2015. The feature film will be launched in March 2015.

For updates visit: www.disasterplayground.com and www.nellyben.com.

 

Written by Nikita Marwaha for Space Safety Magazine.

Canadian Autumn – SGC & IAC

autumn, Canada, Conference, IAC, IAC2014, International Astronautical Congress, SGAC, SGC, SGC2014, Space, Space Generation Advisory Council, Space Generation Congress, Toronto, Travel

 

Hello there! The last time I wrote a blog post I was in the middle of the US on what was the road trip of a life time – but more on that later 🙂 Now that I’m back in London, I’m still recovering from an incredible 5 months in Canada. Having worked at the SSP14 and travelled around the continent, I spent my last 2 weeks in the land of maple syrup attending two very special space events. Get ready for a very  long (but picture-friendly) blog post!

 

This autumn, Toronto was home to two international space conferences  the 13th annual Space Generation Congress (SGC) and the 65th annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC). Having always wanted to attend, this year I finally managed to go and experience them for myself and share it with you in this post.

 

The SGC is an relatively young conference organised by the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). This is a non-profit organisation which aims to give students and young professionals in the space industry a voice through which we can speak directly to the United Nations (UN), space agencies, industries and academia. 

 

I took part in the ‘Ethics & Policy of New Human Space Exploration Strategies’ Working Group. There were also the Working Groups of ‘Entrepreneurship & it’s Role in the Space Industry’, ‘On-Orbit Servicing’, ‘Cubesat Swarms’ and ‘Earth Observation for Maritime Services’.

 

As an SGAC member, I am able to attend the SGC and discuss key space issues alongside other young professionals and students in the space industry. It’s a great way to network, collect ideas and trigger innovation. Projects produced here are then presented to the UN!

 

 

For the Closing Gala Dinner, NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charlie Bolden spoke to the next generation of space leaders in the unique setting of the Ontario Science Centre. As my first time at the conference, I met some wonderful people from across the world! Including NASA Associate Administrator for Education, Donald James. 

 

And it doesn’t stop there.. 

 

The following week was the IAC, an international conference with over 3000 people. This year’s theme was ‘Our World Needs Space’ – founded in 1951 by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), I was lucky enough to attend as Accredited Press with  Space Safety Magazine*. 

 

 The IAC is known for its grand Opening Ceremony on the first day and this year was no exception. The Canadian-themed event was hosted by two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts David St-Jacques and Jeremy Hansen.

 




 

Canadian astronaut Cmdr Chris Hadfield provided a thought-provoking speech on human spaceflight and the nature of this innate human curiosity to explore the unknown. There were also performances from each province in the land, ice skaters, Cirque du Soleil as well as incredible singer-songwriter Peter Katz. He sang an inspiring song named ‘Oliver’s Tune’ which beautifully reflected the message of the IAC. 

 




The main conference is comprised of technical talks given by some of the attendees on papers that have been submitted. This was a wonderful way to listen to our peers and hear where their passions lie. There were also plenary sessions such as the Space Industry Leaders Session which invited open questions from the audience to the heads of ESA, (CSA), JAXA and NASA

 

The final part of the IAC was an exhibition hall overflowing with space companies and organisations all willing to meet like-minded people and share information on the latest innovations in the industry. I even got to sit in the (extremely comfy) Tesla-designed seats for the Dragon 2 spacecraft by SpaceX and pretend to be an astronaut in the Russian Orlan spacesuit! 

 


 

All in all — both the SGC and IAC conferences were wonderful experiences meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends from across the globe. They’re great ways to network and exchange ideas with other people that also want to somehow influence the future of space in some way or the other. 

 

 Whether it be putting robots on Mars, satellites in orbit or humans on the International Space Station (ISS) and beyond — the SGC and IAC are the places to be. Sharing the same location annually, both conferences will convene in Jerusalem, Israel next year. 

 

See you there!

 

-Nikita

*I wrote an article about IAC 2014 for Space Safety Magazine here.

 
 
 
(CN Tower photo credits: Remco Timmermans)
(Donald James photo credits: Lauren Lyons)
(Two Group photo credits: SGAC & Tanay Sharma)
 

 

International Astronautical Congress 2014

Canada, Conference, CSA, esa, IAC2014, International Astronautical Congress, NASA, science, Space, space safety magazine, Toronto
Toronto will become the center of the universe this week as the city hosts the 65th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2014. Taking place from September 29th to  October 3rd, the annual international convention will bring space to Canada. This year’s theme, Our World Needs Space, covers a plethora of topics — many of which are related to space safety. Ranging from human spaceflight to space debris, the conference is an opportunity for space professionals and students from across the globe to network, share their ideas, and learn with the global space community.
The one week long conference will include a variety of symposia, each containing a series of sessions. These talks will be given by researchers and experts in their fields. Several of the symposia follow the theme of space safety — including the Space Exploration, Human Exploration of the Solar System, Space Debris and Human Spaceflight symposia.  Looking into where humankind has gone and may go in the future, as well as the societal implications of discovering extraterrestrial intelligence are important topics of discussion at the IAC.

Breaking It Down

The Space Exploration Symposium (A3) covers the current and future robotic missions and material plans for initiatives in the exploration of the Solar System. Coordinated by Dr. Christian Sallaberger from Canadensys Aerospace Corporation and Prof. Bernard Foing from ESA/ESTEC, this symposium covers exploration of the solar system, including the Moon, Mars, and small bodies. Speakers from NASA and the German Aerospace Centre DLR will present their research as part of this symposium.
The Human Exploration of the Solar System (A5) will tackle the strategic plans, architectural concepts, and technology development for human exploration of the Moon, Mars, Lagrangian Points, and near Earth objects (NEOs).  These are important areas of discussion, especially within the area of space safety since the methods by which humans explore the solar system should maintain an appropriate standard of safety.
The Space Debris (A6)  symposium addresses the wide range of technical issues associated with space debris. Measurements, modeling, and risk assessment in space and on the ground are addressed by speakers from organizations such as Boeing and SwissSpace Systems and universities such as the University of Surrey and Concordia University.  Reentry; hypervelocity impacts; and protection, mitigation, and standards and space surveillance will also be presented and discussed as a part of the Space Debris Symposium.
The Human Spaceflight Symposium (B3) symposium addresses all practical aspects of human spaceflight. Mr. Christian Bank from EADS Astrium Space Transportation GmbH and Mr. John Uri from NASA are coordinating the symposium, which will include talks on governmental and commercial human spaceflight programs as well as advanced systems, technologies, and innovations for human spaceflight.

Top Picks

This wide variety of space safety-related topics being discussed at the IAC demonstrates the importance of such a conference in terms of connecting and inspiring like-minded people.  The session that I am most looking forward to is the Heads of Agencies plenary event where leaders of the world’s major space agencies will outline the latest developments in their countries. The session may also provide an interesting variety of perspectives on the future of human spaceflight, including the International Space Station. Another highlight of the week for me is theNext Generation Plenary – Innovations in Exploration on Tuesday at 13:30. Moderated by former Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, the panel is comprised of a selection of young professionals who will discuss why they believe their ideas will change the way we explore space and how space impacts life on Earth. This interaction between a world-renowned astronaut and the next generation of space leaders is a powerful method of generating novel ideas through discussion.

Space Safety Magazine at IAC

Along with 3,000 participants from over 70 countries attending the week-long conference, there will also be presentations from Space Safety Magazine contributors including Matteo Emanuelli, Andrew Henry, Morris Jones, and Merryl Azriel. Matteo will present The NEO Threat: An Effective Public Communication Strategy dealing with NEO education and the ways in which to effectively communicate such a threat to the public three years in advance. Andrew will conduct a workshop on Earth Observation Data on Thursday afternoon and Morris Jones will present a paper on Cryptosociology and Extraterrestrial Civilizations Wednesday afternoon.  Merryl Azriel will present the Space Safety Magazine-led initiative to recognize the International Space Station (ISS) Partnership with a Nobel Peace Prize award. With a presentation entitled Advocating for a Nobel Peace Prize: An Innovative Approach to Promoting Global Space Engagement, Merryl will delve into the unique value of the ISS partnership and the importance of increasing the public’s awareness of the value of the most complex peacetime collaboration ever undertaken by humankind.
Founded in 1951 by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the IAC is a joint effort by the IAF and a local Host. This year this it is the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI) that is coordinating the logistics in Toronto and ensuring that the North American aspect of IAC 2014 is a prominent characteristic of this year’s conference.
Written by Nikita Marwaha for Space Safety Magazine