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National planetary science conference to be hosted in Leicester for first time

Exploring Mars and the latest results from the ground-breaking James Webb Space Telescope will be among the hot topics up for discussion at a major conference coming to Leicester.

The brightest minds working in the UK’s space industry are set to descend on Leicester for the four-day British Planetary Science Conference 2024 in June and are currently being invited to submit abstracts for the event.

The high-profile conference is held every two years and this year it will be staged at Space Park Leicester and the National Space Centre with support from the University of Leicester, Space City Leicester, UK Space Agency, Europlanet Society and the Royal Astronomical Society.

Professor of Planetary Science John Bridges, of the University of Leicester and Space Park Leicester, said: “This is the fourth occasion that the British Planetary Science Conference is being held and we’re very proud to host it in Leicester because it has become a significant event in the space sector’s calendar.

“This year’s conference will feature an exciting mixture of workshops, talks, posters and world class keynote speakers.”

Libby Jackson, Head of Space Exploration at the UK Space Agency, said: “It’s an exciting time for members of the planetary sciences community to convene in Leicester’s thriving space hub as we look forward to increased UK involvement in major international exploration missions, such as Artemis, Rosalind Franklin, and NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer.

“The British Planetary Science Conference is a truly valuable platform, allowing professionals in the sector a chance to come together in person to learn, network and discover collaborative opportunities that can help to boost innovation, business growth and investment across the sector.”

Lecturer in Planetary Science, Dr Chrysa Avdellidou, from the University of Leicester and Space Park Leicester, said: “At the conference we’ll be discussing a wide range of fascinating themes, including Mars science and exploration, the latest space missions and the results from the Bennu and Ryugu asteroids.”

Professor of Planetary Science Leigh Fletcher, also of the University of Leicester and Space Park Leicester, added: “We’ll also look at the ground-breaking Solar System discoveries made by the James Webb Space Telescope project. This is something we’re particularly proud of as engineers from the University of Leicester and Space Park Leicester have been part of this project for 20 years.

“During the final day of the conference, attendees will also get the chance to tour the brilliant facilities that we have at Space Park Leicester.”

The British Planetary Science Conference and the space instrumentation workshop is an important venue for early career researchers, like Leicester PhD student Cesca Willcocks.

Cesca said: “I’m looking forward to meeting the wider planetary science community, presenting some of the results of my PhD work and learning about lots of new missions and samples.”

The conference will launch with a workshop on developing new space exploration instruments on Tuesday, June 18, and will run until Friday, June 21.

The deadline for abstract submissions for the conference is Friday, May 3.

Students and professionals who want to find out more about submitting oral or poster presentations, or who want to register for the event, should visit