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A royal guide to Mars: UCL scientists add another dimension to Buckingham Palace Science Day

Publication date: Oct 26, 2006 11:00:08 AM

A space flight still costs a king’s ransom, but on Tuesday 24 October a thousand UK students – including sixth-formers from three Islington schools – had the chance to walk on Mars for free.

UCL scientists and engineers teamed up with the Open University and Imperial College London to present their ‘Rough Guide to Mars’ exhibit at Buckingham Palace’s Science Day, in The Queen’s 80th birthday year.

One of the main attractions of the exhibit was UCL’s ‘Geowall’, which enables visitors to take virtual reality tours to four areas on the surface of Mars. The Geowall – a giant polarised screen and two projectors held on a three-legged gantry – works by using unique large area 3D models and terrain-corrected image mosaics created at UCL. New 3D animations added to the other-worldly experience.

Professor Jan-Peter Muller, UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory, said: “We were pleased to present for the first time 3D guided tours of another planetary surface which allow the visitor to decide where they wish to land and explore the surface.”

Located in the Ballroom of the palace, the Rough Guide to Mars also consisted of a large graphic pop-up display, a meteorite from Mars, and a scale model of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft, which is currently orbiting the red planet. Recent images from the Mars Express Mission were used to create the 3D Geowall exhibit.

Notes for Editors

1. The Islington schools in attendance were: Holloway School, Highbury Grove School and Highbury Fields School.

2. Photographs of the Buckingham Palace Science Day are available from: http://www.empics.com

3. Further information on Buckingham Palace Science Day can be found at: http://media.netpr.pl/notatka_65521.html Or, by contacting Samantha Cohen or David Pogson in the Buckingham Palace press office: +44 (0)207 930 4832.

4. For more information on the Rough Guide to Mars exhibit, please contact Susan Carnell, UCL Media Relations, Email: s.carnell@adm.ucl.ac.uk, Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9726.

5. For more information on UCL, the Open University and Imperial College London’s programme of research on Mars, see http://www.life-on-mars.org

6. For more information on UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory visit: http://www.mssl.ucl.ac.uk, or the UCL Department of Geomatic Engineering website: http://www.ge.ucl.ac.uk

About UCL

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. In the government’s most recent Research Assessment Exercise, 59 UCL departments achieved top ratings of 5* and 5, indicating research quality of international excellence. UCL is the fourth-ranked UK university in the 2005 league table of the top 500 world universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. UCL alumni include Mahatma Gandhi (Laws 1889, Indian political and spiritual leader); Jonathan Dimbleby (Philosophy 1969, writer and television presenter); Junichiro Koizumi(Economics 1969, Prime Minister of Japan); Lord Woolf (Laws 1954 – former Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales); Alexander Graham Bell (Phonetics 1860s – inventor of the telephone); and members of the band Coldplay.