UCL Research Domains


Space Week

08 November 2021–12 November 2021, 1:15 pm–5:00 pm

an image of space with 'UCL Space Week'

UCL Space Domain is back with another interesting Space Week from 8 -12 November 2021.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Ambikesh Sharma

We're kicking off the week with a session exploring the future of UK Space juxtaposed against the aftereffects of Brexit and Covid, followed by a discussion with Dan Curry - popular for his designs and concept art from the renowned Start Trek. The next day of space week gives us an insight on the robotic exploration of the solar system and the multitude of ideas uncovering settling down on Mars. The week continues its adventures with a session about Exoplanets and the workings of ESA Labs, a scheme created by the European Space Agency. The week also includes a conference Debat on how satellites help us monitor or adapt to climate change. The week ends with a rigorous Pecha Kucha and culminates in an enthralling debate on whether settling on Mars is essential for the future.

Space week is full of events exploring ongoing topics of Space research and studies, delivered through a mixture of face to face and online events. With extensive precautionary measures in place on UCL's campus, the events are organized to offer the best of the sessions. The entire schedule for all the events and their details are given below.

DayDateTimeNoLocationEvent NameDesription Speakers
Monday8 November13:15 – 18:008.1Gustav TuckLooking ahead

Brexit and Covid have the potential for significant disruption to the long-term future of the UK Space Sector.

However, in this session we will be looking forward, rather than backwards. What will the sector look like, and which missions will be making the scientific headlines in the coming years?

The first half of the afternoon will comprise forward looks from ESA, Satellite Applications Catapult, UCL, UK Space Agency, and the UCL student community.

This will be followed by a description of some of the very exciting space missions that UCL central to: Euclid, Gaia, Solar Orbiter, and SMILE. Other missions will be described later in the week (Ariel, Comet Interceptor, ExoMars, PLATO).

UCL is proud of the breadth of its interest in space and the session will conclude with a description of its new Centre for Outer Space Studies by the department of anthropology. 

Find out more and register here

Professor David Price - Vice Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement)

Chair: Professor Alan SmithDirector, Space Domain (SD)

Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund - President International Space University, President IAF

Claire Barcham - UKSA  Strategy Director

Professor Serge Plattard - Deputy Director, UCL SD

Joseph Aschbacher - ESA Director General

Stuart Martin - Space Application Catapult CEO

Estelle Janin - President UCL Space Society


Chair: Professor Serge Plattard - Deputy Director, UCL SD

Professor Sarah Matthews - Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), UCL

Professor Mark Cropper - MSSL, UCL

Professor Tom Kitchin - MSSL, UCL

Professor Chris Owen - MSSL, UCL

Professor Graziella Branduardi-Raymont - MSSL, UCL

Dr David Jeevendrampillai - UCL Anthropology

Monday8 November18:30 – 20:008.2Gustav TuckThe Artistry of Dan Curry
Dan Curry & Ben Robinson with Rachal Hill - Public Lecture

Star Trek is one the most recognisable works of science fiction in popular culture and seven-time Emmy award winner Dan Curry is one of its most enduring talents. His amazing contributions have ranged from directing, title design and concept art to practical on-set effects and weapon design. From The Next Generation to Enterprise, Dan's far-ranging work for Star Trek has resulted in some of the series' most memorable moments.

Together with Ben Robinson, a foremost expert on all things Star Trek, they have recently published a book ‘The Visual Artistry of Dan Curry’ which outlines Dan’s significant influence on the aesthetics of science fiction in the public realm. His visual effects work on Star Trek has been recognized with multiple awards including 7 Emmys and 19 nominations. 

The Centre for Outer Space Studies (COSS), with its commitment to generating debate around the social implications of the cosmos, is excited to host Dan and Ben’s discussion around the intersections of art and science, science and fiction. 

Find out more and register here
Hosted and chaired by Rachel Hill
Tuesday9 November10:00 – 13:009.1

Anatomy G29 JZ Young Lecture Theatre

The Robotic Exploration of the Solar System

Chair: Professor Andrew Coates, UCL

Deputy: Professor Alan Smith

To understand our solar system better humans have sent probes to its farthest reaches, and our nearest neighbours. This session showcases some of the research at UCL associated with this robotic exploration.

A goal for human space exploration is Mars but before we can visit ourselves, we need to know a great deal about that very hostile environment. Guests will give an overview of Mars followed by a description of the ESA mission EXOMars being readied for launch – and for which UCL is providing the ‘eyes’ of the rover.

Comet Interceptor will also be highlighted, another of our mission with very strong UCL involvement. Exciting UCL/Birkbeck Research related to the Moon, Titan and Jupiter will also be presented. 

Organised jointly with the UCL/Birkbeck Centre for Planetary Science.

Find out more and register here

Professor Lewis Dartnell - University of Westminster 

Professor Andrew Coates - MSSL, UCL/CPS

Professor Geraint Jones - MSSL, UCL/CPS

Professor Dominic Papineau - Earth Sciences, UCL/LCN, CPS Director

Dr Annie Wellbrock - MSSL, UCL/CPS

Affelia Wibisono - MSSL, UCL/CPS

Professor Ian Crawford - Birkbeck, University of London/CPS

Tuesday9 November14:00 – 17:009.2

Anatomy G29 JZ Young Lecture Theatre

Humans in Space

Chair: Individual sessions

Humans are returning to the Moon (at last!) and plan to go on to explore at least Mars. However, neither of these endeavours is easy and many questions remain unanswered.

UCL, based on its breadth of space experience, has created an Off-World Living Institute, we’ll tell you about it in this session along with some of the research being undertaken here.

We’ll also look at some of the issues associated with travel much further afield (i.e. Mars). To give context two experts from the European Space Agency will describe Europe's lunar and Martian ambitions and progress.

Find out more and register here

Chair: Dr Iya Whiteley - Director UCL Space Medicine

Dr Aidan Cowley - ESA

Professor Andrew Edkins - Director UCL OWLI

Malica Schmidt - UCL

Dr Aaron Pankhurst - Anthropology/UCL


Chair: Prof Andrew Edkins - Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Dr Romain Charles - MEDES

Professor Iya Whiteley - Director UCL Space Medicine

Miles Harris - Institute of Risk and Disaster Management/UCL

Professor Keith Siew/Prof Stephen Walsh - Department of Renal Medicine, UCL Medical School Royal Free Hospital

Wednesday10 November10:00 – 17:0010.1Archaeology G6 Lecture TheatreThe future role of academia in the space sector

Space Policy Workshop

This event is invite only. If you are interested in attending please contact alan.smith@ucl.ac.uk



Chair: Alan Smith

Rapporteur: Serge Plattard

Thursday11 November10:00 – 13:0011.1Gustav TuckExoplanets

Just as our Earth orbits a star (the Sun), so do many other planets orbit other stars. In fact, we know of nearly 5000 ‘Exoplanets’ and expect that the true number is vastly larger than this.

Indeed, Exoplanets are rather common-place – but definitely not boring. The variety of planetary environments is huge.

Following a guest speaker from Oxford, (Prof. Suzzane Aigrain) we will describe the science and technology around two Exoplanet mission in which UCL has a very influential involvement: PLATO and Ariel.

Find out more and register here

Professor Suzzane Aigrain - Introduction to Exoplanets

Dr Vincent Van Eylen - 


Alan Smith - MSSL/UCL, Co-I PLATO

Professor Giovanna Tinetti - Ariel Mission Leader/CPS

Professor Giorgio Savini - Ariel Payload Scientist/CPS

Thursday11 November13:30 – 17:0011.2Gustav Tuck



Some years ago, the European Space Agency created a scheme called ‘ESA_Labs’ which seeks to align the research and teaching of space subject within European universities with the needs of the European nations (please do not confuse this with the EU, while we have left the EU, we haven’t left ESA!).

ESA’s head of the Development and Strategy Office will open the session with their perception of the ESA Lab. We will then have general presentations from the four UK ESA labs (the first time they’ve come together!), UCL, Oxford, Lancaster and Leicester.

Within the ESA_Lab@UCL we have 17 themes (an extraordinary breadth) and we’ll be describing six of these also. Others are covered at other times during the week.

Find out more and register here

Chair: Prof Serge Plattard

Isabelle Duvaux-Bechon - Head of Development and Strategy Office

Professor Alan Smith - Director ESA_Lab@UCL

Professor Simon Jackman - Director ESA_Lab@Ox

Professor Rick Wylie - Director ESA_Lab@Lanc

Professor Nigel Bannister - Director ESA_Lab@Leic

Dr Ingo Waldmann - AI Theme Lead/UCL/CPS

Professor Kasia Balakier - Sat Comms Theme Lead/UCL

Professor Kwang-Leong Choy - Material Science Theme Lead/UCL

Professor Marek Ziebart - Orbital Dynamics Theme Lead/UCL

Ian Raper - Space Project Management and Systems Engineering/UCL

Professor Lucie Green - Space Weather Theme Lead/UCL

Thursday11 November18:00 – 19:3011.3Gustav Tuck

Conference Debat

We have been observing our planet from space for over half a century. During this time the global average temperature increased by 1 degree. From melting ice caps, thawing permafrost and sea level rise, to increased temperatures, precipitations, draughts and ocean acidity, the warming signals are clearly visible from space thanks to a wide range of remote sensing techniques and instruments.

Using recent examples from the European and US ice monitoring satellites CryoSat-2 and ICESat-2 our speaker Michel Tsamados will show:

(a) how the field of Earth Observations has revolutionized the way we are monitoring climate change including in the most remote locations of our planet and

(b) will propose some ideas on how this ever-expanding amount of satellite data can help us create forecasting and policing systems to fight climate change and other environmental disasters.

Another perspective on the topic will be presented by our other speaker, Dan Osborn about how adaptation to climate change has become a necessary. He puts forth, that although satellites have been assisting with weather predictions for decades, more could be done with the data they can provide to help successful adaptation to climate change.

Systems such as Copernicus already provide relevant information and existing and upcoming instruments could help with issues as diverse as

(a) improving urban structures (so that shading and cooling can occur)

(b) refining understanding of coastal change and

(c) anticipating and managing extreme events such as droughts and storms.

Find out more and register here

How can satellites help us monitor climate change? 

Speaker: Dr Michel Tsamados - Earth Sciences, UCL


How can satellites help us adapt to climate change?

Speaker: Professor Dan Osborn - Co-Chair Environment Domain, UCL


Temperature and climate gases: what can we see from space? 

Speaker: Professor
Cathy Clerbaux - LATMOS/IPSL, CNRS

Friday12 November10:00 – 13:0012.1Gustav TuckPecha Kucha

As a part of UCL Space Week, the Centre for Outer Space Studies (COSS) invites PhD students from across the UCL community, whose work concerns outer space, to present their work at an interdisciplinary Pecha Kucha.

Find out more and register here

Friday12 November 15:00 – 17:0012.2Gustav TuckDebate

Settling on Mars is essential for the future of humanity.

More details available soon.