Spotlight on Outreach – SpaceUp London
SpaceUp is an unconference, also known as a user-generated conference or a BarCamp. There are no spectators at SpaceUp, only participants. All attendees are expected to give a demo, present a talk, or participate in a panel or roundtable.
On Saturday 10th June, The Planetary Society brought together space enthusiasts at Queen Mary University of London for “SpaceUp London 2017”—the first large-scale event organized by Planetary Society volunteers in Europe. Because this was an ‘unconference’, the participants largely decided the discussion topics on the day of the event. The day was packed with quick-fire 5-minute talks, breakout discussion sessions, keynote talks, brainstorming sessions, and other opportunities for guests to challenge each other. Attendees came from a wide variety of backgrounds, and included medics, theatre students, virtual reality experts, amateur astronomers, satellite company representatives, and more. This fostered lively discussions and inspiring conversations.
In the quick-fire presentations, participants gave a brief insight into their favorite space topics. An amateur astronomer explained the latest crazes from exoplanet research, quickly followed by another attendee proposed that Titan should be our focus for exploration. Next up was the energetic founder of Mars Nation who talked about her group that meets to brainstorm solutions on the challenges of inhabiting mars. After jumping around the solar system, we landed safely on the Moon. Lunar Mission One trustee David Iron explained his vision to leave a permanent archive of human life under the Moon’s south pole.
For the participant-led sessions, attendees were again spoiled for choice between topics that included the ethics of going to Mars, space debris, asteroid mining, satellite applications, human evolution in space, and more. The highlight was seeing attendees bridging across different parts of the space community. Virtual reality experts connected with psychologists to talk about using technology to deal with the challenges of human spaceflight. The organiser of a local star gazing club got some tips from the Royal Observatory to address light pollution in London.
SpaceUp London embodied the Planetary Society’s mission to ‘empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration’. SpaceUp events can be organized by anyone, anywhere. Check out the website to find your nearest event and advice to get one started yourself. SpaceUp London enabled the local space community to forge its own unique event and discuss the topics attendees were truly passionate about. New friends were made, great ideas born and new links forged. London is getting to know the cosmos and SpaceUp has helped us to find our place within it.