Former NASA astronaut and social media star to teach Leicester how to ‘think like an astronaut’

Posted by er134 at Nov 12, 2013 11:00 AM |
University of Leicester and The National Space Centre to host Canadian Astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield on Friday 13 December

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 12 November 2013

Colonel Chris Hadfield will be available for interview during his visit to both the University of Leicester and the National Space Centre. Please contact Laura Norton, Publicity Manager – Non Fiction, Pan Macmillan via to arrange.

NASA press images available on request via:

Canada’s first astronaut to walk in space who became an overnight sensation with his stunning space photography and educational ‘how to’ videos will be visiting the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre (SRC) and the National Space Centre on Friday 13 December.

It is a shared interest in observing the Earth from space, and the inspiration of the next generation of scientists and engineers, that brings Colonel Chris Hadfield, a Royal Canadian Air Force Fighter Pilot who joined Canada’s Astronaut programme in 1992, to Leicester.

Chris first flew in space on the Russian Space station MIR and then in April 2001, made his first visit to the International Space Station (ISS) to install its ‘robot arm’, CanadaArm2. More recently, Chris was flight engineer on ISS expedition 34 and the first Canadian Commander of the ISS on expedition 35 from December 2012 to May 2013. It was during his time on the ISS that Chris captivated the world’s social media by tweeting his breathtaking photographs of the Earth from space.

Dr Harjinder Sembhi of the University of Leicester’s SRC’s Earth Observation Science group said: “Chris has done a fantastic job of raising public awareness for our area of science to a whole new level. As one of the leading centres in the UK for observing the Earth from space, we are very excited to have this opportunity for our students to engage with Chris, particularly as he has inspired so many of us with his vibrant and articulate approach to science education.”

During his visit to the University, Chris, who has recently accepted the position of Professor of Aviation at the University of Waterloo, Canada, will meet a number of Physics and Astronomy students who will share their research with him through displays and demonstrations. He will then take part in a Q&A session at the National Space Centre with school and college students from around Leicestershire.

Professor George Fraser, Director of the SRC explained: “We are well-established in space research at Leicester and pride ourselves on providing high-quality and innovative teaching to enrich our students. Colonel Hadfield captured our attention in such a way that we wanted to give our undergraduate and postdoctoral students an opportunity to meet and share their research projects with him.”

Chas Bishop, Chief Executive of the National Space Centre added: “We are looking forward to introducing Chris to as many people as we can. Chris’s visit not only gives us the chance to meet the astronaut of the modern age of social media, but will also give us a foretaste of 2015, when our own Major Tim Peake will spend six months on the ISS.”

Colonel Chris Hadfield will be visiting Leicester on Friday 13 December as part of an international book tour for his memoirs, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. The new publication provides an insight into the wisdom he has learnt from spending ‘a lifetime making the impossible a reality’ and teaches us all ‘how to think like an astronaut’.


Notes to Newsdesk:

Colonel Chris Hadfield will be available for interview during his visit to both the University of Leicester and the National Space Centre. Please contact Laura Norton, Publicity Manager – Non Fiction, Pan Macmillan via to arrange.

More information and NASA press images available on request via

  • An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield is published by Macmillan, hardback £18.99.


The Space Research Centre (SRC)

The Space Research Centre is part of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester. It has two main research areas: Earth Observation Science and Space Science and Instrumentation which develops sensors and optics for high energy astrophysics and planetary science from landers and orbiters, as well as carrying out interdisciplinary research in the Life Sciences and Medicine.

Earth Observation Science (EOS)

The EOS group is an interdisciplinary team based at the Space Research Centre in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, with lecturers also in the departments of Chemistry and Geography. The group is a national and international hub for a broad range of activities utilising satellite (remote sensing) data for the key challenge of climate change.

The core goal of the group is to conduct integrated research and development, leading the design, build, data analysis and exploitation of increasingly sophisticated and powerful sensors that are now being flown on satellites. Underpinning this work is the utilisation of field instruments, laboratory data and models either in-house or through collaborations.

The key research areas of the EOS group are 1) creating datasets for climate change and weather forecast studies, 2) global atmospheric composition and chemistry, 3) land cover and carbon and 4) urban environment research and pollution transport.

  • Active in air quality monitoring of urban areas with research focusing on building instruments to help understand pollution emissions in the urban environment.
  • Using remote sensing instruments to understand and improve our knowledge of global land surface temperature variability.
  • Using space-borne infrared Fourier Transform spectrometers to study global atmospheric composition and track pollution from hazardous events such as wildfires and volcanic eruptions

The National Space Centre

  • The National Space Centre is the UK's largest visitor attraction and research facility dedicated to space.
  • The National Space Centre opened to the public in June 2001 and has welcomed over 2.6 million visitors, including over 650,000 school children.
  • The National Space Centre is the Millennium Commission landmark project for the East Midlands.  It was co-founded by The University of Leicester and Leicester City Council. Its other founding partners are BT and East Midlands Development Agency.

For more information please visit

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