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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 191

Date:- 13 March 2005

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Space Missions Has A Local Connection

Ed following the mission test from control.  (Above)

ED Trollope is from Formby and now aged 25 is a Spacecraft Operations and Simulations Engineer for VEGA Group PLC, an international consulting and technology company. Ed is currently working onsite at the German Space Agency DLR in Cologne on the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta mission, a spacecraft to land on a comet.

"Since starting work at VEGA in July 2004, I have been working on the simulator for Philae - the lander currently being carried aboard the Rosetta spacecraft. On Friday 4th March, Rosetta performed the first of four planetary swing-bys (three around the Earth and one around Mars) on its way to rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. These swing-bys use the gravity of the planets to help propel the spacecraft further and further into space. During this swing-by, we used a simulation here at the Lander Control Centre at DLR to display a real-time image of the spacecraft, Earth and moon, providing a convenient visualization of the relative positions and orientations of each." he told us.

Rosetta is a cornerstone mission of ESA's long term science program 'Horizon 2000'. We asked him what this mission involved:- "The mission includes many scientific firsts, such as being the first mission to both orbit and land on a comet, which makes this a very exciting mission for me to be involved in.

Simulators are used quite extensively in the space industry for a number of reasons; they are ideal for training operations teams in advance of a mission, or for a specific activity, because any mistakes can be discussed and learned from with no harm done. Making a mistake on the real spacecraft could be disastrous, as unfortunately we can't send somebody out with a spanner to fix any damage that resulted. It's the same story with testing new software, and so on. Ideally everything that could have a negative impact on the craft if it were to go wrong would be tested on a simulator first. Simulators are also handy for testing how the spacecraft will behave in certain situations - in something as complex as a spacecraft, seemingly minor details can have surprising effects, and simulators can serve to draw attention to such details which may otherwise be overlooked." 

For more information about the Rosetta mission, visit ESA's Rosetta websites at:-  and 

For information about Vega Group visit and information about the German Space Agency visit:- (Lander Control Center URL:-

Coming to your area:- Science events for everyone

ALL around the UK, people will soon be exploding custard, debating the impact of GM foods, searching for fossils and celebrating Einstein's birthday as National Science Week comes to town. From 11 March to 20 March, National Science Week will see art galleries, science centres, pubs and schools looking at the role science plays in our lives, from the fun to the serious, the absurd to the profound.

Here is a taster of what's going on in the North West:-


Free public talk by Peter Wade on Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. 

Fourth in a series of five talks on Questions of Time. Storey Institute, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster, 11 March 12.30


A special display on the life and times of John Dalton and Adam Sedgwick and their connections with Kendal Museum. Kendal Museum, Kendal, 11 March to 19 March 2005


Working in science, over 18 and fancy yourself as the next science TV star? Then come to the Museum and enter the regional audition of FameLab. If you are visiting the Museum with your family, drop-in and watch the auditions unfold.

Museum of Science and Industry, 12 March, all day


It will make you laugh and then make you think. Marc Abrahams is visiting the UK on his 2005 Ig Nobel Tour, featuring Ig Nobel prize winners, scientists, musicians and thinkers, as well as announcing and demonstrating winners of the Project Cuppa competition, the UK's best scientists' rituals for preparing tea and coffee.

CCLRC Daresbury Laboratory, Daresbury, Warrington, 14 March, 19.00


Paul Clarke, Imperial College describes how his team extended previous models for vCJD epidemic to relax assumptions about prevalence of infection, predicted size of an epidemic and susceptibility. He will consider a possible secondary vCJD epidemic via blood transfusion/other routes and use mathematical models to predict it size.

Manchester Metropolitan University, 16 March, 16.30


A look and learn session examining extremely abundant fossils found in William Brown Street, Liverpool. Fossils will then be looked at in the laboratory to find out what they are, and when, where and how they lived.

Liverpool Museum steps, 20 March, 13.00 

"Science plays a central role in our lives, from developing new medicines and investigating climate change to designing the latest mobile phone or tennis racquet,"
says Roland Jackson, Chief Executive of the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science), which co-ordinates National Science Week. "It is important that everyone is able to engage with science and science-related issues, and National Science Week gives them this chance, whether it is finding out something new, discussing your hopes and concerns about the progress of science or just getting your hands mucky with a home experiment."

More information about what's on in your region can be found by searching the National Science Week programme online. The website also includes free activities that you can do at home, plus news of the uniVERSE poetry competition winners, to be announced towards the end of National Science Week. Visit


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