Big Question Challenge is out of this world!

Today my Big Question for Skype Classroom and School in the Cloud went live. The Skype Inspires Literacy program is challenging students to answer a Big Question. Big Questions don’t have an easy answer – they are often open and difficult, they may even be unanswerable. The aim is to develop digital literacy skills, and to encourage critical thinking and collaborative learning.

This is a project leading on from the 2013 TED Prize Winner Sugata Mitra’s wish to build a School in the Cloud, where children can explore and learn from one another. I was very lucky to be sitting in the audience when he gave his wonderful prize talk!

I’m so happy to be asked to do this (even if the video still of my face is hilarious!)

Goldilocks and The Water Bears

December 2014 it became official. I am writing a popular science book for Bloomsbury Sigma on all things Astrobiology. The working title is “Goldilocks and The Water Bears: The Search for Life in the Universe”…which I absolutely love because the more you think about it, the more astrobiologically clever it is (my husband came up with it so all credit to him) but I would welcome your thoughts on this too. So I am taking the year to write and to carry on with my outreach and other writing commitments. More news and excerpts coming soon!

BBC Sky at Night

My interview with Dr. Adam Rutherford for the BBC’s The Sky at Night airs this Sunday 14th September, BBC4 at 10pm, and will be repeated on Thursday at 7.30pm also on BBC4. We are talking about the hunt for alien life outside of our Solar System, and how from orbit you might be able to detect whether there is life on an exoplanet or exomoon!You can watch a clip of the show, with includes our chat, on the BBC website here. Plus here is an editing still from my interview…I obviously love science as I always seem to be laughing!

A very funny scientist copyright: Dr. Adam Rutherford ;)

A very funny scientist copyright: Dr. Adam Rutherford ;)

Enjoy x

I’m back…well sort of…

Hi astrobiology enthusiasts!

Sorry for the silence these past few months. Incase you don’t know I have been on maternity leave and sadly been kept a little too busy to update my blog. I am still on leave for a while but am finally easing myself back into the world of science. My brain is ready for action!

My first post-baby gig will be on the BBC’s ‘The Sky at Night’ again, hooray! It was such fun last time so am really looking forward to it. We will be filming next week and it should be out in September, date TBC.

I’m also starting work on a few exciting projects so watch this space ;)

Back soon

The Lost Lectures – Life on Mars

Hey everyone,

Check out my contribution to The Lost Lectures here. I spoke about the search for life on Mars and the future of humankind…

This was filmed last summer and feels like an age ago, but am so happy it was chosen to be published online! Such a great team of people work on this project, i would encourage everyone to go to an event ASAP!

Catalogue of Planetary Analogues is LIVE!

Finally, after two years, I get to see all the work I have been doing freely available online!

CAFE logo

I have been secretly creating The Catalogue of Planetary Analogues for the European Space Agency. A science Lonely Planet-type guide to sites on the Earth that mimic those on the Mars and the Moon.

Planetary missions to the Moon and Mars have returned high-resolution images that show complex surface landforms in unprecedented detail. Spectral datasets from mission instruments reveal the presence of a wide array of mineral species on the surface. These discoveries are changing analogue site requirements for understanding the formation and processes occurring on our nearest neighbours, and for planning future exploratory missions. Analogue filed sites are now expected to include complementary examples of surface processes, rock types, mineral species, and microbial habitats as might be presently, or once were, present on the Moon and Mars. Over the last 60 years, the range and diversity of terrestrial analogues has expanded tenfold. The Catalogue of Planetary Analogues is a result of this growth and the need to collate these sites into a single space for use in scientific, engineering, mission planning and educational activities.

Here is the link to ESA’s General Studies Program site “Finding alien worlds on Earth” and to a PDF of the catalogue itself.

The response to this catalogue has been really positive, and you can read some of the press below:

Back soon!

Sorry for the silence recently, and I promise a more detailed blog is on its way! No news is said to be good news and in this sense my absence can be taken as good news, as I am incredibly busy working! Trust me there are some great astrobiology projects and announcements just around the corner :o)

However, I wanted to draw folks attention to my thoughts on the latest “alien” story to hit the British media a week ago….I hope this makes sense to people and helps you understand where we as scientists are coming from.

BBC Future and The Sky at Night

Well they say when you wait for a bus, two come along at once…and that is no more true than this week. Both my BBC Future interview and appearance on The Sky at Night aired this week, i hope folks are enjoying them!

I filmed the BBC Future interview whilst at TED in February. It was a 6am get-up and pre-breakfast interview…i can still remember how tired i was! Not the BBC’s fault at all, i blame TED and myself for never getting any sleep ;) The interviewer (Peter) and cameraman (Brian) were fantastic fun, really supportive and asked great questions. I am very happy with how they cut the interview and managed to include so many of my own fieldwork images! If only they could have cut the “check that off the box” comment! You all know what i meant though right?? For the non-UK based interested astrobio lovers check out the video here! UK-based people, sadly we cannot watch it yet :(

So that leads me to The Sky at Night, the holy grail of astronomy TV programming! I was so honoured to be asked to be on it, and thoroughly enjoyed the filming. When you get a load of scientists together to talk about Mars, the filming takes forever as we genuinely get into the ‘chat’…and at one point the film ran out! I haven’t seen the final version yet (i have a phobia about watching myself) but it is on BBC i-player and will be on the telly-box again Wednesday BBC4 at 7.30pm.

Thank you for all the supportive Tweets, emails and comments on the shows, it gives me so much more confidence and means a lot! Enjoy!