What it takes to be an astronaut

An astronaut from the European Space Agency (ESA) will be touching down in Glasgow this week to share his experiences among the stars, in a public lecture about ‘the right stuff’ needed for a career in space exploration.

 Jean-François Clervoy, of the ESA Astronaut Corps, will be giving the annual David Elder Lecture at the University of Strathclyde on Wednesday, 28 March, entitled Up, up and away: what it takes to be an astronaut. He has flown on three space missions, including visits to the MIR space station and the space shuttle.

He has flown on three space missions, including visits to the MIR space station and the space shuttle.Members of the public will hear of his scientific research in space and the training he undertakes, which includes scuba diving and spells in Arctic environments.

One of the aims of the David Elder Lecture is to encourage an interest in science- and physics in particular- among school pupils, as a subject to study and a potential career choice.

Dr Helen Fraser, a Senior Lecturer in Physics at the University of Strathclyde, has organised the event. She said: “Space travel and exploration has captivated the human imagination for decades. Not only is it an exciting career for those who pursue it but it is also essential to our understanding of the Universe and Earth’s place in it.

“Research at Strathclyde underpins the new discoveries being continually made in space exploration and the development of new space technologies, and opens up opportunities for academics and students to contribute to knowledge about the Universe. Only a small number of people have ever had the chance to go into space and we look forward to hearing Jean-François Clervoy describe his voyages.”

Dr Fraser has been on several parabolic flights, which simulate the zero-gravity environment of space, as part of her research into the early stages of the formation of planets. She conducted the research through funding from SUPA (Scottish Universities Physics Alliance).

Professor Robert Martin, Head of the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Physics, said: “Physics plays a huge role in shaping our understanding and our environment and is central to our knowledge of fields as varied as natural forces, medical treatments, transport and computing.

“There remains a vast range of discoveries to be made in physics by new recruits to the subject. Jean-François Clervoy’s lecture will be an ideal starting point for people considering studying physics, as well as those who already have an interest.”

ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy will be giving his lecture at 7pm on Wednesday, 28 March in Lecture Theatre 1, McCance Building, University of Strathclyde, Richmond Street, Glasgow. Free tickets may be reserved here.

Earlier the same day, he will also be giving a presentation to school pupils at Glasgow Science Centre.

21 March 2012

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