24th Aug 2015: To Space; Human costs of Space exploration by Dr Niamh Shaw

Come along to Leith Beer Company, put your feet up and listen to Niahm tell us about her journey into space…


Title of talk:

To Space. Human costs of Space exploration.

Niamh Shaw
Niamh Shaw

Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • What is our attraction to Space?
  • What are we chasing – or escaping from?
  • What does it take to become an astronaut?
  • What is the current stage of the Space race – how did the private enterprises change it?
  • What is the objective of the Mars One mission?
  • Why do we need to go?

A few paragraphs on your subject:

Space Scientists believe that, in the past,
Mars may have once been a thriving planet Very similar to Earth.
That water may have flowed across the surface in rivers and streams,
And that vast oceans covered the planet.
That this was once an oxygen-rich atmosphere
And that these early conditions on this wet planet


May have been conducive to the evolution of life.
That Mars may have been like Earth once.
Until some cosmic catastrophe interrupted,
Destroying the atmosphere,
Evaporating the water,
And ending whatever life it might have sustained.
Other scientists believe that life on Earth
May have originated on Mars
When the planet was flourishing
That tiny bacteria-like life-forms
Hitched a ride on a meteorite
And collided onto Earth
And Inadvertently loaded our planet with the building blocks for life.
Which means that we may be essentially be Martians.
Theories are great.
But we won’t know this for sure,
Until we go there for ourselves.
I’m talking about manned missions.
Sending astronauts off into Space.
To explore for ourselves.
And figure it out with more concrete data.
More samples, more testing.
And plans are afoot to do just that.
A manned mission to Mars.
NASA & ESA are in full preparation mode for their mission.
On the Orion Spacecraft,
Due for launch in 2036.
But the pressure’s on.
They’re not the only ones.
Just like the Lunar missions of the 1960’s
Which were driven by competition between 2 superpowers
-A Space race
Who was the more powerful?
And finally won by NASA in July 1969
Gestured by a foot placed on a celestial body
other than Earth,
History is repeating itself.
But this time
Instead of worrying about other Space agencies
In China, Japan or Russia
it’s a new competitor:
Private Enterprise Spaceflight.
The next generation Space Race.
Private enterprises like MarsOne.
A non-profit organization based in the Netherlands
Which will establish a permanent human colony on Mars by 2025.
And document that process on a reality television program,
Which will begin airing in 2015.
Four civilian astronauts
will be selected by public vote
and every step of the crew’s journey
the selection
the training
the preparations
the goodbyes
the launch
the landing
and the establishment of the new colony
will be broadcast
For our viewing pleasure.
These first four colonists.
These pioneers
Will be joined 2 years later
By another team of 4 astronaut civilians
And more will continue to arrive bi-annually
Until they have established a new martian community of 24
Thereby creating a new way of life for our species.
The NASA-led Mars mission.
And the televised MarsOne.
These couldn’t be more different.
For Space agencies like NASA, ESA
The priority is the safe return of their crew
Getting them home is as important as getting them there.
And that’s why it’s not happening until 2036.
They’re waiting until they can bring their astronauts back.

A few paragraphs about you:

Dr Niamh Shaw, a performer, scientist and engineer, is passionate about awakening people’s curiosity. Formerly a full-time academic and published author in peer-reviewed journals she embarked on a career which merges science, art, technology and humanity and is currently the Artist in Residence at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork. Niamh regularly contributes popular science/tech related topics on national TV and radio, including TV3’s Late Lunch Live for Science Foundation Ireland, as well as speaking publicly at events including TEDxUCD, Trailblazery (2013), Space Expo (Trinity College), Festival of Curiosity (Space Tourist 2014; Curious Tales with Dara O’Briain, 2013).
Niamh regularly visits schools and career events to act as role models in STEM careers and the empowerment of women in business. She hosted the 2014 Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards and made a series of ‘STEM careers in Space’ videos for Science Foundation Ireland as part of their SmartFutures series. She was recently listed in Ireland’s Top 38 Talented women in Technology 2014.
Her most recent science art performance,’To Space’, funded by Science Foundation Ireland (in partnership with CIT BCO) & The Arts Council of Ireland about Irelands involvement in Space, premiered at Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival and will be presented at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August this year, supported by Culture Ireland. Other science art work includes ‘Speaking with Plants’ (Botanic Gardens 2014), ‘My Place in Space’ (Festival of Curiosity 2014). She co-founded TATSOI, who made ‘That’s About The Size Of It’ & IN SIGHT OF EUREKA as part of an artist in residency at Festival of Curiosity.
In June, she attends the ISU’s annual Space Studies Programme 2015 in Ohio, in partnership with NASA Glenn Centre.  She presents at European Geosciences Assembly in Vienna and at the 66th International Astronautical Conference in Jerusalem on the collaborative form of making ‘To Space’.
She performs weekly with The Craic Pack Comedy Improv & long form improv troupe The Cardinals. she now brings these improv skills to scientists and academics as part of Straight Talking Science, a specialised communications workshop to enhance public engagement skills in association with UCD Science Expression and The Gaiety School of Acting.
Niamh’s work in Science Art has been supported by The Arts Council of Ireland, CultureIreland, Science Foundation Ireland, ESERO Ireland, European Space Agency, The Festival of Curiosity,  CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory Cork, Dublin City of Science 2012, Arts@CERN, MAKE 2011, Show in A Bag 2011, The SPACE Programme 2011 and Dublin City Council Drama Bursary 2011. She is a member of Engineers Ireland and the Institute of Physics. She has written for national press including The Irish Times and has guest blogged on Dart of Physics and Science Calling.

What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend to others if they wish to explore your chosen theme further?


What are your weblinks?

Website – www.tospace2014.com
Blog – www.niamhshaw.science
Twitter – twitter.com/niamhiepoos
Facebook – www.facebook.com/tospace?fref=ts
Public Email – [email protected]
Any others….

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