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Where on Earth? ESA BASS poses the question at Portsmouth Stargazing Live…

Portsmouth Stargazing Live 2020 pulled some surprises last month with a slightly different perspective to previous years… 

The ESA BASS stand at Portsmouth Stargazing Live, originally a tie-in event with the BBC Stargazing Live TV programmes (Image credit: ESA)

This annual event held at Portsmouth’s History Dockyard was first launched to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists to learn more about space, the solar system and interplanetary exploration – and has dazzled audiences every year since 2013.  

At the 2020 event satellites were featured for the first time through ESA Business Applications and Space Solutions (ESA BASS), who talked about how we use space in our everyday lives. In fact, for the first time at this science exploration event, a conversation was started about looking down at the Earth rather than looking up into Space.

Satellites take centre stage  
Space offers many opportunities and solutions to improve our everyday lives. Satellite navigation systems provide accurate location data for moving or fixed assets, enabling users to get from A to B, but also to share their location or access location-based mobility services. Satellite communication networks allow us to transmit breaking news around the world in seconds. Earth observation satellites can forecast the weather, monitor crop health and inform us about major environmental hazards and events. 

Over 1600 attendees of all ages came to Stargazing Live to learn about space and space science!

Tom Greenwood and Victoria Christmas , ESA BASS UK Regional Ambassadors talked about the uses of satellites, and what would happen if they stopped working. They also played a game with participants, which proved by far the most popular attraction on the ESA table, called #WhereOnEarth? 

Six images taken from satellites of major global cities were on display for space enthusiasts of all ages to guess the location. Successful answers got ESA prizes and goodies (alien friend anyone?) 

Can you guess the six cities? 

Istanbul, TurkeyNew York, USALondon, UKTokyo, JapanBerlin, GermanySan Francisco, USA

On top of the fun taking place in the interactive exhibition, there were public lectures later on in the auditorium. One of the highlights was Tom Greenwood’s ‘Bringing Space Down to Earth’ where the audience discovered different satellite technologies, their uses and types of orbit. Starting furthest away from the Earth, Tom explained the concepts of Geostationary orbits, Medium-Earth orbits and Low-Earth orbits, and which satellites operate in each, and why. 

A super enthusiastic audience were quick to start asking questions, including:

 “What happens to satellites when they stop working?”

“How many new satellites will there be?”

“How big is a satellite?” 

Black holes, Big Bangs and billion-year journeys
Some of the other lectures explored the lives of stars, formation of supermassive black holes and the Big Bang, taking the audience through a 14 billion-year journey. 

The Portsmouth Stargazing Live event was a stellar success, and for the first time, thanks to ESA BASS, satellites were a focal part of the event. 

At ESA BASS we are always looking for new audiences to talk to about the opportunities available to society from space, and how we can bring space down to Earth. 
If you would like to talk to your Regional Ambassador about future opportunities like this then please get in contact here 


10 February 2020
Last updated at 09 March 2020 - 11:00