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Even though space is vast, old and mostly empty, this night will shed light onto the insanely cool universe that we are a part of. Three distinguished researchers from Imperial College will share their knowledge about the infinite opportunities to explore and discover the expanse beyond Earth, and will take you along for a ride like no other!
Observing the Epoch of Reionisation
Thomas Binnie (PhD student ICL)
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA), coming in the next decade, is the next generation of radio telescopes. The SKA will turn deserts in Australia and South Africa into eyes that will observe the Epoch of Reionization (EoR). The EoR was the most recent phase change of our universe–inter-galactic hydrogen was ionised for the first time since the big bang. The form of the EoR will reveal the nature of our universe as it moved from the dark ages into the cosmic dawn. The 100,000 antennae built in Australia will observe radio signals produced by hydrogen atoms and allow us to map this process.
How Old is the Universe?
Dr Daniel Mortlock (Senior lecturer in astro-statistics at ICL)
How can creatures that live for just decades even hope to measure the age of something which has lasted almost a billion times as long? The earliest serious attempts (both scientific and religious) to estimate the age of the Universe weren't very successful, but over the last century there has been steady progess to the point where the answer is now known to the per cent level precision. This talk will take a look at the astronomical observations and physical theories that have combined to make this awesome measurement possible.
Frozen Oasis in Space: How mining water on the Moon will transform spaceflight
Stanley Starr (Honorary Senior Research Fellow at ICL)
Discoveries of lunar water have led to plans for exploring the polar regions of the Moon. Research into the use of in situ resources, particularly oxygen and metals, from the regolith will reduce the logistics costs of lunar missions and allow extended stays. Only by landing research robots can we truly identify the potential for mining. Soil ices will allow the production and distribution of everything from propellants and metals to life support commodities. Many countries and companies are pursuing this ‘gold rush’ of the new space age and usher in an age of sustainable off world habitation.