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National planetary science conference launches in Leicester

The thermal design and performance of the Soft X-ray Imager (SXI) instrument, developed at Space Park Leicester for the upcoming solar wind SMILE mission, will be discussed at the workshop today

Some of the brightest minds – over 170 people – from the UK’s space science community are in Leicester this week for the four-day British Planetary Science Conference 2024 launching today.

A workshop on developing new space exploration instruments will be held on the first day, with the main conference sessions running on 19 to 21 June.

The space instrumentation workshop an ice breaker event for the main conference will take place on Tuesday 18th. During the first day workshop attendees will get the chance to tour the brilliant facilities at Space Park Leicester, the University of Leicester’s pioneering £100 million science and innovation park, in addition to learning about new methods for getting ideas into space and tapping into the expertise of Space Park Leicester’s engineers.

In the main BPSC2024 conference from Wednesday to Friday, Keynotes include Meg Schwamb – Vera Rubin Observatory, Ashley King – Bennu analyses, Richard Ghail new Venus science, Emma Bunce – BepiColombo and a new view of Mercury, Steve Banham – Ancient Mars

Other presentations include the dating of the giant planet instability using meteorites, insights from the Winchcombe meteorite on the carbonate precursors of CM carbonaceous chondrites, and the 30-year pursuit to uncover Uranus’s infrared aurorae.

Additionally, various papers by Leigh Fletcher, such as those on Jupiter’s jet streams and Saturn’s autumn images, will be highlighted:

An ice breaker event for the main conference will take place on June 18, and an Early Career Researcher evening social event and meal on the 19, with a conference dinner at the National Space Centre taking place on June 20.

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.

This year’s themes are:

  • Mars science and exploration, ExoMars, TGO and other missions
  • Results from Bennu, Ryugu and primitive meteorites
  • A new view of Mercury and preparation for BepiColombo
  • Venus
  • Giant Planets and their moons, JWST results
  • Small Bodies & Planetary Origins (asteroids, comets, dwarf worlds, meteorites)
  • Planetary ionospheres and magnetospheres
  • Astrobiology
  • Community Feedback session

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:“The British Planetary Science Conference is set to be a pivotal event for the planetary sciences community.

“This gathering offers an unparalleled opportunity for professionals to network, learn, and explore collaborative ventures that drive innovation, business growth, and sector-wide investment.”

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