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
x

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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!

Posted in Antarctica, Astrobiology, Enceladus, Europa, Extremophiles, Mars, Outreach, Rio Tinto, Titan | Leave a comment

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:

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/collective/2013/nov/6/exploring-alien-landscapes-earth/

http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/technology/quirks-quarks-blog/2013/10/how-to-see-the-moon-or-mars-from-the-comfort-of-earth.html

http://spaceref.com/earth/earth-science/analaogs-finding-alien-worlds-on-earth.html

http://www.astrobio.net/pressrelease/5757/a-catalogue-of-other-worldly-places-on-earth

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24452-mars-on-earth-ask-the-catalogue-of-planetary-analogues.html#.Und9DnCceSo

Posted in Astrobiology, CAFE Analogue Catalogue, Extremophiles, Mars, Media, Rio Tinto, The Open University | 1 Comment

TED-ED animation live!

Yesterday my new TED-ED animation went live!! It is unsurprisingly on the search for life in the Universe and is already doing really well! Thank you to everyone involved, especially my amazing animator!

Enjoy!! Xx

Posted in Astrobiology, Enceladus, Europa, Extremophiles, Mars, MSL Curiosity, Outreach, TED, Titan | Leave a comment

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.

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Final days of HI-SEAS mission

Who would have thought 4 months could fly by so quickly!!

The HI-SEAS mission is coming to a close and what an interesting simulation it has been! Check out this great article on the mission here.

HI-SEAS habitat on Mauna Loa. Credit: Angelo Vermeulen

Posted in Astrobiology, AstroGardening, HI-SEAS, Mars, Media, Science Articles, TED | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Astrobiology, ExoMars, Extremophiles, Mars, Media, MSL Curiosity, TED | Leave a comment

Astrogardening Update

So we didn’t hit our target on Kickstarter….boo! Although it is all about the journey and ultimately educating the public on the possibilities of life outside of the Earth. To this end here is a list of all the wonderful press we got on our project, including a number of articles written by myself on the topic of Mars gardening!

Huffington Post UK http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/05/15/project-to-build-robot-garden-mars_n_3277477.html

Wired Blog UK http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-05/13/gardening-on-mars

GOOD http://www.good.is/posts/astrogarden-rover-how-can-we-design-a-garden-for-mars

Universe Today http://www.universetoday.com/102151/how-plant-a-garden-on-mars-with-a-robot/#.UZPdf2PPIVE.twitter

SEN http://www.sen.com/news/how-you-can-help-grow-a-mars-garden

Next Nature http://www.nextnature.net/2013/05/lets-build-a-garden-on-mars/

TED Blog http://blog.ted.com/2013/05/10/the-guerilla-astrogardener-fellows-friday-with-louisa-preston/

We will not give up trying to get the exhibit off the ground so watch this space…

Thank you all for your support xx

Posted in Astrobiology, AstroGardening, Mars, Media, Outreach, TED | 1 Comment

Astrogardening on sen.com

Check out a wonderful article on our Kickstarter campaign here on sen.com by the lovely Paul Sutherland.

One concept of how astronauts might grow their own plants on Mars. Credit: Pat Rawlings/NASA

Still a long way to go to get our funding, please help!!

xxx

Posted in Astrobiology, AstroGardening, Extremophiles, Media, Outreach, Science Articles, The Open University | Leave a comment

AstroGardening in the Press

A lovely blog on our AstroGardening Kickstarter Project by Next Nature…Thank you!

http://www.nextnature.net/2013/05/lets-build-a-garden-on-mars/

Posted in Astrobiology, AstroGardening, Extremophiles, Mars, Media, Outreach | Leave a comment