Moon Mission 2024: The plan to return to the lunar surface — and the tech that’ll get us there

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface in 1969 (credit: NASA)

UNLESS you’ve been living under an enormous rock or are a conspiracy theorist (in which case past form says you might get a punch in the face from Buzz Aldrin), you’ll know tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing that made heroes out of the Apollo 11 crew — Neil Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins’ mission was the first of six that saw astronauts leave footprints on the lunar surface.

Although truly revolutionary for its time, some of the technology that landed humans on the Moon was mind-bogglingly primitive by today’s standards. Even the smartphone in your pocket/handbag/manbag has thousands of times the processing power of the computer that guided the astronauts there.

In the 47 years since humans last set foot on lunar soil, tech has moved on — and in just a few years’ time, it could help us go back…

The full article appeared in the 19 July 2019 issue of Metro and can also be viewed in the e-edition.

How Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit was saved using 3D scanning

Neil Armstrong's spacesuit (Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum)

Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit (Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum)

The historic garment was painstakingly restored using light scanning and 3D mapping ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission launch

On 16 July 1969, three men flew to the moon. Their spacesuits have since been kept at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, but nothing lasts forever. The suit Neil Armstrong was wearing when he became the first man on the Moon hasn’t been on display for 13 years – until the museum decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign in July 2015. Dubbed ‘Reboot the Suit,’ it has 9,477 backers and has managed to raise more than $700,000 (around £539,000).

On 16 July this year, exactly 50 years after the flight, freshly restored Armsrtrong’s suit will go back on public display. First on temporary display, it’ll later become the centrepiece of the museum’s upcoming Destination Moon exhibition, slated for launch in 2022.

Armstrong’s historic garment is among the most fragile items in the museum’s collection. So how did the Smithsonian go about preserving it for future generations?

You can read the full article at Wired UK (originally published 8 July 2019).

Good news for budding astronauts! Brownies can now earn a new space badge

Credit: Girlguiding

Girlguiding has teamed up with the UK Space Agency and the Royal Astronomical Society to introduce a new Space badge for Brownies.

The new interest badge is designed to encourage the astronauts and scientists of the future by giving them the skills and confidence to engage in astronomy and space science.

Available to 200,000 girls aged seven to ten, the new badge is part of a wider move to update the activities available to Brownies and Girl Guides.

Some 800 new activities and badge challenges have been launched to replace more outdated subjects and introduce areas that are more relevant to the modern world…

You can read the full article on Mirror Online (published 24 August 2018). 

International Women’s Day 2017: Women leading the way in science and technology

IWD celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world
(Wiki Commons/George Joch/courtesy Argonne National Laboratory)

Celebrated on 8 March every year, International Women’s Day (IWD) was first marked by the United Nations in 1975 and celebrates women’s achievements.

The day marks a call for action for boosting gender parity and includes a range activities such as political rallies, and conferences. This year’s theme is aimed at working towards a more gender inclusive working world.

Yahoo News UK asked five women leading the charge in the historically male-dominated science and tech world about how they worked their way into their current roles and what challenges they faced along the way. Here’s what they told us…

Kim Nilsson

CEO

Pivigo

Kim Nilsson, CEO, Pivigio

What does your current job involve?

“I’m the CEO and one of two founders of Pivigo, a data science marketplace and training provider. We connect freelancing data scientists with organisations and businesses looking to become more data driven on our online platform. As CEO of a start-up I tend to get involved in everything that goes on in the business.”

What route did you take to your current role?

“Oh, a very long one. I decided when I was 13 years old that I wanted to become an astronomer, and from there it was a straight path to my PhD in Astrophysics. I continued with two more science positions before I finally came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

“I ended up doing an MBA at Cranfield School of Management in the UK, just to learn about business and figure out what my place in industry was going to be. I would never have thought it would be as an entrepreneur, although perhaps I should have known given that I am in fact a fourth-generation female entrepreneur in my family.”

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

“Starting a tech business as a female PhD graduate was not easy. There is a lot of prejudice towards women still, unfortunately, and on top of that also towards academics. It has taken me several years of hard work to earn a certain level of respect in the industry, and to prove that I can do business as well as anyone in this industry.

“Fortunately, outright examples of discrimination are still rare, but they do happen. Most recently I tried to network with a VC at an event who clearly only had interest in the male CEO of another start-up that was standing next to me. Still, I do find that these individuals come around quickly once they do listen to me and understand that I have something of relevance to say, and that I can say it with authority.”

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into a similar role?

“Just do it! If you are new to starting a business, make sure you have access to advice. If you don’t have a co-founder, this could be via an accelerator programme, via your University, or via your wider network. Also set yourself a goal and a decision point. For example, decide how many clients you want to have, or how far you want to get with your product launch, by a certain date and agree with yourself to evaluate at that point whether it is worth continuing or not. That way you are taking a calculated risk, and whether it works or not you will have gathered incredibly valuable experience.”

You can read the full article at Yahoo News UK (originally published 8 March 2017).

Cool coding just for kids

Pioneering Nasa scientist Katherine Johnson celebrated in Lego

If nerds are the new rock stars, it’s time to get kids techy

Tech innovation depends on brainpower. That’s why encouraging children to study STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — is vital. And the good news is there’s help at hand. Lego has just launched its Boost sets, which incorporate app-based coding — allowing kids to bring their creations to life.

Aimed at children aged seven and older, the kits enable youngsters to build projects including Vernie The Robot and the Guitar 4000, while learning about how the built-in motors and sensors work. They can even add personality to their creations using voice recordings.

The Danish toymaker is also working on a Women Of Nasa set. Designed to mark the accomplishments of women and people of colour in space (and hopefully encourage their successors) it has just been given the green light to go into production…

You can read the full article in Metro (originally published 10 March 2017).