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Laurier research centre members VIP guests at MAVEN spacecraft launch
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Shohini Ghose, associate professor of physics and director of Laurier’s Centre for Women in Science (WinS), and Charlotte Armstrong, WinS outreach coordinator, were VIP guests for the launch of the MAVEN Mars orbiter, Nov. 18 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Their VIP group, including Bill Nye (“the science guy”), CEO of the Planetary Society (of which Armstrong is a regional coordinator), began their two-day experience Nov. 17 at the Kennedy Space Centre. They attended the MAVEN mission briefing and Nye’s public talk, followed by a private tour of the Vertical Assembly Building and the launch pad.
On Nov. 18 at 1:28 p.m., they witnessed the successful launch.
“Watching the launch live was much more amazing than any Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster!” said Ghose.
When MAVEN reaches Mars, there will be a record number of spacecraft studying the red planet, gathering information for a possible human spaceflight to Mars in the 2030s. MAVEN will be studying Mars’ atmosphere, with the goal of determining the history of atmospheric gases lost to space and how its current atmosphere evolved.
“My reaction to the launch was one of utter amazement at what humans are able to accomplish,” said Armstrong.
While Ghose and Armstrong were at Cape Canaveral, Laurier students and faculty gathered in the Faculty of Science boardroom to watch the launch live on NASA TV.
“My goal for becoming involved in big events like this is to help build interest in science in the community,” said Ghose. “The simultaneous event at Laurier was planned by WinS to get people excited about science.” WinS student organizer Eden Hennessey said it was one of the most exciting events that the centre has hosted.
Status updates on the MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) mission are available on the NASA website.
The Laurier Women in Science Centre (WinS) was established to attract women into science and mathematical/quantitative fields, to support and celebrate women’s contributions to science and mathematical social sciences, and to address challenges women still face in higher education and careers in science. Visit wlu.ca/wins for further information.