Space scientists stage Rosetta mission show

Posted by ap507 at Aug 21, 2015 10:24 AM |
Researchers team up with local poet for event on 1 September

Issued on 21 August

Leicester space scientists are coming together with a local poet to stage a show about the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission. This week the mission marked perihelion, the closest passage of comet 67P to the sun, with an on-line ESA 'hangout' for 'Rosetta's Day in the Sun'. With a strong profile for space science, Leicester is an ideal place to stage a live event. 'TO PERIHELION AND BEYOND!' A Celebration of  Rosetta and Philae's Comet Adventure' will be hosted by Leicester Astronomical Society on 1st September  at the National Space Centre.

Professor John Bridges of the University of Leicester will join Josh Barker of the Space Centre and poet/storyteller Siobhan Logan for this event. Open to adults and teenagers, it promises to 'look at the science of comets, the thrill of the chase and the Egyptian mythology that inspired Rosetta's name.' There will be a lively presentation with images of the mission, performance and a 'build your own comet' demonstration. Guests will hear what we've learnt so far from Rosetta and can join in a Q/A.

Organiser Ann Bonell of the LAS said: 'Rosetta is making exciting and major contributions to our understanding of comets. Leicester Astronomical Society is looking forward to finding out about the latest research on these building blocks of the Solar System.'

The ESA hope to explore the origins of the solar system and the part comets may have played in the formation of planets such as our own.

John Bridges explained: 'In 1986 Europe made the first flyby of a comet – Halley’s Comet, now Europe has made the first landing on a comet with Rosetta. Together with samples returned from Comet Wild2 by the Stardust mission in 2006 we are learning about the very earliest stages of the Solar System from the record preserved in these primitive celestial bodies.'

John Bridges is a Professor of Planetary Science at the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester, as well as being a member of the Mars Science Laboratory and an educator with the National Space Academy. He has studied cometary samples from the Stardust mission as well as meteorites from Mars and asteroids. He explained why the Rosetta mission is unique: 

'Rosetta has sent back extraordinary images of jets composed of ice and dust coming from the surface as it approaches the Sun and analyses of organic compounds and water. As we delve deeper into the Rosetta results we are realising that some of our old ideas about the origin of the Solar System will change.'

The mission captured the public imagination last November when the lander vehicle Philae launched from the Rosetta spacecraft onto a comet 317 million miles from Earth. Siobhan Logan said: 'For a moment back in November, the world seemed to hold its breath watching Philae drop from its mother-ship to land on an alien environment. We couldn't help but identify with this object crafted by humans and the perilous venture it was undertaking.'

Philae is the first human-designed object ever to land on a comet and together with Rosetta is right in the thick of the action as the comet heats up and spurts out dust and gas on its approach  towards perihelion this week. The ESA has even given Philae its own Twitter account and weekly updates are posted at  and

Siobhan Logan has previously collaborated with scientists from the University of Leicester on events about the Northern Lights staged at the British Museum and the National Space Centre. Her book 'Firebridge to Skyshore: A Northern Lights' Journey' was published by Original Plus Press in 2009. Inspired by the dramatic events of the Philae landing in 2014 and she has written a new work about the mission.

Logan added: 'I was fascinated by the ESA's choice of Egyptian mythology to name the mission and map the comet. The poems I wrote are a mash-up of modern science and ancient stories and I hope they will cast a spell as we re-live Philae's descent to this cometary underworld.'

Her book 'Philae's Descent into Duat' will be printed in scroll form as an' Egyptian Book of Hours for the ESA Comet-lander' and available for £3 during the event.

Josh Barker of the National Space Centre commented: 'Here at the National Space Centre we have joined our visitors, closely following the progress of the landmark Rosetta mission. This fantastic endeavour has really helped capture and inspire people to investigate space further. From our Philae landing party, to the regular science updates, we have been thrilled to share the celebration of this mission with our visitors and the global scientific community.'

The event will run on  on Tuesday 1st September from 7pm – 9pm in the John Eggleston Suite of the National Space Centre at Exploration Drive, Leicester. Guests should note the NSC galleries will not be open for this event. 

Tickets are £2 for visitors (pay on the door) who are advised to pre-book to avoid disappointment (contact  ). Updates and further information can be found on the event page:



Siobhan Logan



Leicester Astronomical Society  

Ann Bonell LAS organiser:

Josh Barker at the National Space Centre: 

National Space Centre:

Professor John Bridges at University of Leicester:  

ESA:  and    

             'Rosetta's Day in the Sun' Perihelion on-line event:


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