Leicester’s out of this world research to be showcased at New Scientist Live

Posted by ap507 at Aug 23, 2018 01:27 PM |
University of Leicester’s pioneering research explores the future of planet Earth and space science

Issued by University of Leicester on 23 August 2018

Out of this world research into the future of our planet and space science will be presented by leading University of Leicester experts at New Scientist Live 2018 (20-23 September).

New Scientist Live is an award-winning, mind-blowing festival of ideas and discoveries for everyone curious about science and why it matters.

During this year’s festival, the University of Leicester will be showcasing the innovative space instrument Leicester researchers have developed which will be used to help provide the most complete exploration and study of the planet Mercury to date. Physics professors and students will be demonstrating how craters are formed and explaining their importance in identifying the composition of planets.

The Mercury Imaging X-ray spectrometer (MIXS) instrument is the first imaging X-ray instrument to visit another planetary body. It will observe the surface of Mercury from the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter, which is scheduled to launch in October 2018, in order to determine the surface composition and the complex interaction between Mercury and its environment.

BepiColombo is a joint mission between the European and Japanese space agencies and consists of two orbiters anchored together. When BepiColombo arrives at Mercury in 2025, the orbiters will go their separate ways and begin their scientific work in earnest.

On Thursday 20 September, Professor Emma Bunce, who is Principal Investigator on the development of the MIXS instrument from the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, will describe what we know about Mercury and how instruments on board will help us make new discoveries about both Mercury and the wider solar system. Details of this event are available here: https://live.newscientist.com/talks/mission-to-mercury?&searchTerm=emma%20bunce&searchgroup=libraryentry-talks

Professor Emma Bunce said: "This is a very exciting time for us at the University of Leicester, as we wait for the launch of the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo spacecraft to Mercury. The data from our instrument and from the wider payload will revolutionise our understanding of Mercury. I look forward to sharing our excitement around this mission and encouraging the next generation of scientists to come and work with us on the data in 2025!”

Space scientist Dr Suzie Imber, who last year won BBC Two’s ‘Astronauts: Have You Got What It Takes?’, will also be attending New Scientist Live 2018, speaking to inquisitive minds both young and old about her experiences and her role as part of the wider University of Leicester BepiColombo team.

While the University of Leicester is climbing on board the exciting journey to Mercury, our planet is also undergoing some drastic changes which will affect its environment significantly in the future – and Leicester experts will be delving deep into the cryptic billion-year history of skeletons in order to tell this tale.

From the enormous bones of the blue whale to the microscopic plates of marine algae to the planetary-scale accumulations of coral reefs, skeletons underpin much of life on Earth.

But when and why did skeletons form, and how did they provide a durable framework for evolution?

On Saturday 22 September, Professors Mark Williams and Jan Zalasiewicz, from the University of Leicester’s School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, will tell the billion year-scale story of skeletons on Earth, consider how the warp-speed evolution of techno-skeletons is now shaping our planet’s future, and explore the possibilities of skeleton formation on other planets. They will show that there is much more to skeletons than a lot of old bones. Details of this event are available here: https://live.newscientist.com/talks/skeletons-the-frame-of-life?&searchTerm=jan%20&searchgroup=libraryentry-talks

Professor Jan Zalasiewicz and Professor Mark Williams said: “We hope that the audience will come away with an idea not just how wonderfully various skeletons have evolved on Earth, but also how they are fundamentally involved in shaping our planet and its life support systems.”

This year during New Scientist Live more than 140 speakers and 100 exhibitors will come together in one venue to create an unrivalled atmosphere and energy, packed with thought-provoking talks, ground-breaking discoveries, interactive experiences, workshops and performances.

More information about New Scientist Live 2018 is available here: https://live.newscientist.com/welcome


Notes to editors:

For more information contact Professors Emma Bunce (ejb10@leicester.ac.uk), Jan Zalasiewicz (jaz1@leicester.ac.uk) and Mark Williams (mri@leicester.ac.uk) and Dr Suzie Imber (suzie.imber@leicester.ac.uk).


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