Tag Archives: UK

Interstellar

Interstellar

It’s been a little while since I properly posted here. So what have I been up to?

Well, I’m still plugging away at my post-doctoral research, trying to push through the wall of Academic Sucess & get my own research paper published and working on a bunch of ‘space’-based infographic-type display materials for some of the University’s outreach and public engagement events that I’m involved in; the latter of which I’m going to show off here because I can.

From some of the space debris work that @spaceman_ben and I have been involved in, I’ve constantly been looking for engaging, and interesting, ways to communicate some of the information that we’ve collected about the current state of Earth Orbit and to inform the general public about some key facts about ‘Space’. There’s a lot of cool, interesting and captivating infographic posters floating around the internet; and I thought I’d put my hand to coming up with some for myself. Some of my inspirations were:

I designed and produced each one from scratch (well, after making a template myself for the style of the graphic) in CorelDraw X4; collating some of the data on active spacecraft and debris drawn from the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Satellite Database and the public catalogues of space objects (SpaceTrack // Celestrak). Some of the results are also from the EU space debris project ACCORD which I’ve been contributing to, along with results from debris simulation results from the University of Southampton’s space debris model, DAMAGE [Dr. Hugh Lewis]. It’s been pretty fun; turns out I quite like doing graphic design and getting to funnel a little bit of creativity into my regular (research) job. 

Anyway, without further ado, here they are (I, II and III):

I. SPACE: 2014 |

Larger Version: http://bit.ly/1llwe4T

Larger Version: http://bit.ly/1llwe4T


II. SPACE DEBRIS |

Debris_InfoPoster_LR

Larger Version: http://bit.ly/1lltche

III. EARTH ORBIT | 

Larger Version: http://bit.ly/1cPNSsR

Larger Version: http://bit.ly/1cPNSsR

Each poster is (IRL) at A0 size, approx. 84 x 59 cm, which is pretty big. Since the (original) files (output at like 600 dpi) were MANY MEGABYTES big, I cranked the resolution down a tiny bit to upload them here. If you want to download the super-high resolution [600 dpi; warning: large file size], then head over here:

Download full versions:

I | Space: 2014 (.png, 6640 x 9492 pixels, 4.4 Mb)
II | Space Debris (.png, 6640 x 9492 pixels, 5.4 Mb)
III | Earth Orbit (.png, 6640 x 9492 pixels, 4.4 Mb)

Hopefully they should be winging their way to the printer’s office very soon and all ready in time for Southampton Science and Engineering Festival, which is just under a month away. I feel fairly proud of the end result (so far, at least), so hopefully I’ll feel even more pride once they’re turned into actual, physical things that I can hold in my hand/hang up on the mantelpiece/etc.  Either way, it was a monster effort and a massive time-sink to make and edit then around my regular research responsibilities, so I’m fairly pleased that they’re at a point where I can shove them out of the door and not keep tweaking them indefinitely like the perfectionist that I am.

Not sure what my next creative project will be quite yet; I’m toying with the idea of designing a card+dice game based on WWII air race/dogfighting, but that’ll need some further thought before I thrust myself into the endeavour. In the mean time, I will ponder.

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Anyway, that’s all the proper stuff that I wanted to say; I shall finish up by sharing some of my most-recent playlists, cataloguing the soundtrack to 2014 so far.

I therefore leave you with these014/01 – Black Sails to the Wind (folk metal);  014/02 – Flextronix (electronic/indie lo-fi). Onwards to glory!

Playlist_01401

Playlist_01402

[Zinar7]

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Rhino-Hunting: Part 4

Rhino_4

Head over here to find Rhino-Hunting Part One // Rhino-Hunting Part Two // Rhino-Hunting Part Three // Rhino-Hunting Part Four

In the past three photo-blog posts (linked above), I’ve had a marvellously merry time tracking down the Go Rhinos! sculptures that make up the Southampton Rhino Trail. As part of the Rhinotastic! event at Marwell Wildlife, all 97 sculptures (36 full-sized sculptures and 51 school-sized) are re-united at the Secret Garden behind Marwell Hall between 10th and 14th of October. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to go visit Marwell and catch up with my most favourite rhino, along with the few that I hadn’t managed to meet quite yet.

Despite the rain showers later in the day, an awesome time was had and I managed to sneak in a few photographs in between the raindrops; representing the very final results of my summer-long rhino-snapping efforts. Enjoy!

[Zinar7]

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Rhino-Hunting: Part 3

Rhino_3

Head over here to find Rhino-Hunting Part One // Rhino-Hunting Part Two // Rhino-Hunting Part Three // Rhino-Hunting Part Four

Over various weekends throughout the Summer, I’ve taken immense joy in taking a closer look at my hometown and hunting down all of the Go Rhinos! sculptures that make up the Southampton Rhino Trail. After ten weeks of inhabiting the pavements and parks of Southampton, the rhino are biding their time before the ‘Rhinotastic!’ event at Marwell Wildlife between 10-14th October. I’ll certainly miss their friendly faces dotted around town, but aim to catch up with them all again at Marwell in a week or so’s time.

Anyway, in accordance with my previous couple of photo-blogs on the matter, a few weekends ago I once again trotted into Southampton city centre – camera in hand – to photograph the major sights and sounds of this vibrant city. Here are a few more of my snaps from my excursions:

[Zinar7]

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Rhino-Hunting: Part 2

Rhino_2

Head over here to find Rhino-Hunting Part One // Rhino-Hunting Part Two // Rhino-Hunting Part Three // Rhino-Hunting Part Four

Last weekend, I continued my exploration of Southampton – camera in hand – taking photographs of my humble little city and seeking out more of the Go Rhinos! sculptures that make up the Southampton Rhino Trail. On this week’s excursion, I wandered round the rest of town scooping up pictures of the remaining lurking rhino, before taking a trek around Ocean Village and the marina, and some of the back-streets of Southampton.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the results of my efforts. Enjoy!

[Zinar7]

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Rhino-Hunting: Part I

Rhino_1

Head over here to find Rhino-Hunting Part One // Rhino-Hunting Part Two // Rhino-Hunting Part Three // Rhino-Hunting Part Four

On Sunday I spent a merry afternoon troddling around downtown Southampton, taking photographs of my humble little city and following the Rhino Trail which marks the Go Rhinos! event which is organised by Marwell Wildlife to support conservation efforts & exhibit and bunch of local art and design. The result of the project is that, for a 10-week period over the Summer, there are 36 life-size (ish) Rhino sculptures dotted around Southampton that have been designed and decorated by local artists. It’s a super idea, and it certainly brightens up a dull trudge to the shops to see your trail populated by hordes of brightly-coloured and painted rhinoceroseseseses.

Because I have a massive ‘Collector’ gene in my body somewhere and I’m now armed with a fancy new camera, I thought I’d go trekking around my wonderful, vibrant city and take photographs of all the rhino, as well as some of the other sights of sunny (well, sometimes) Southampton. [I packed my in-line skates, but because of weather-based inclemency and a lack of nice surfaces down the lower end of town, I didn’t actually end up on them, harrumph.]

Sunday’s jaunt was my first proper hunting expedition on the Go Rhinos! trail, and I covered most of the rhino located near the docks and the centre of town; I endeavour to head out again in a couple of weeks to hit the streets (except on my skates next time) and snipe down the remaining beasts. It was certainly a pleasure to wander round my adopted hometown without a proper agenda, and it was nice to explore some of Southampton’s more nook-ish crannies and interesting areas, rather than merely visiting the usual haunts.

Anyway: without further ado, here’s a catalogue of my first rhino-hunting expedition. Enjoy!

Head over here to find Rhino-Hunting Part Two //

[Zinar7]

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UK Space Conference 16-17/07/2013 – Personal Debrief

Last week was the second UK Space Conference, so along with a couple of colleagues from the Astronautics Research Group, we headed up to steely Glasgow to put up and run the University of Southampton exhibfaition stand at the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre (SECC) for the 16th-17th of July. All things considered, everything went pretty well and we put on a good show; nonetheless, here’s a few of my thoughts about the experience and what happened at #UKSC2013.

UKSC-UoS

Having sorted out shipping all of our exhibition materials up to Glasgow via DHL the preceding Friday, Ben, Rhys and I hopped onto a plane from Southampton Airport at Monday lunchtime to arrive in Glasgow in the afternoon. Grateful that our exhibition kit had all arrived at the on time (and in one piece), we set to work on fitting it all into our 2 m x 3 m display area. We set up the big stand, a couple of pull-up banners, the display counter and a table-top touchscreen PC, and hung the neon-coloured Southampton High Altitude Re-Usable Platform (SHARP) cubesat from the roof of our display (and its parachute) to attract the eye of potential visitors. With almost ruthless efficiency we erected everything in (unofficial) record time, ensuring that everything that could be duct-taped down was duct-taped down – either for the safety of passing hobbits/children who are in constant danger of the main stand collapsing and falling on them, or to avoid expensive pieces of equipment going AWOL during a busy conference. At this stage, I’m fairly sure that stock prices of duct-tape go through the roof every time we organise an outreach event, so we should probably look into some sort of sponsorship deal.

UKSC-DAMAGE

The University of Southampton’s space debris evolutionary model, DAMAGE

The conference began in earnest at 0900 on Tuesday, where I was immediately required to abandon the stand in order to deliver a talk in the opening session the conference, which was the ‘Have Your Say’ Soapbox session: a couple of months back, delegates were invited to submit a 140-character abstract for a 5-minute presentation slot, with those selected to give the presentation then required to finalise a 140-word summary and a set of 5 presentation slides that did not exceed 5 minutes but which fit into the main topics of the session covering “current industry and academic projects, new results, proposals for new work and availability of support and funding.” Taking my recent work on the ACCORD project, I submitted (with the help of Ben) an abstract entitled ‘A Web Tool for Spacecraft Manufacturers & Operators to Promote Sustainable Space Operations’, with the aim of introducing our new ACCORD environmental impact rating for spacecraft which measures future, prospective spacecraft designs for their potential impact(s) on the space debris environment in Earth orbit.

UKSC-Soapbox

The talk went fairly well, though I can categorically say that the strict five-minute slot was indeed very restrictive (but in a good way), and that the sight of your presentation slides slowly filling up with a red border as you approached the five-minute limit (and the threat of the microphone being cut off) was certainly an effective way to get speakers to conform to the time restrictions. Sadly, I didn’t win the prize of an iPad that was being toted for the ‘best presentation’ of the session, but I think I pulled things off fairly well – it was certainly the only space debris-related talk across the whole conference and, looking past the blinding stage lights, I could see a few members of the audience photographing my slides for future reference, so hopefully I raised some very valid awareness about our work on ACCORD. I definitely stressed out far more about the talk than I honestly needed to, but I always tend to get butterflies at these sorts of things.

[if you would like to download, or view, my presentation slides from the Soapbox session, you can find them by clicking here]

Returning from the stand after my talk, it was immediately obvious that we’d made the right choice to exhibit at the conference: despite the expense, hassle and energy required to purchase a slot and fill it with attractive marketing gear (and three post-grads), we were the only major UK ‘space’ university (aside from the Open University) to properly exhibit at the conference, and I think that this was good certainly from the point of view of ‘reaching out’ to industry and also trying to talk to students prospectively looking at careers in the space industry. It also helps that the space industry is scattered with graduates from the University; in particular, the current Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, Dr. David Parker, and the Chief Engineer, Dr. Richard Crowther – it was certainly nice to hear so many ex-students talking about their time here with some fondness. That being said, following a thorough survey of all the free pens we could steal from other stands, the generic University of Southampton pens we borrowed from the Faculty were by far the cheapest-looking ones at the conference and to blame, in no small part, for how few got picked up by visitors and how many we had to bring back to Southampton. For next time, I’d definitely be interested in getting some proper (and classy-looking) Astronautics Research Group ones, or at least Aero/Astro department ones.

P1000338

Our stand was positioned fairly well (an end slot near an aisle, and visible all the way down the main aisle) and nestled between the stands for the  National Physical Laboratory and Thales Alenia Space, so we ended up getting some pretty good footfall from people either walking through or passing by, and certainly plenty of questions. In retrospect, it would have been really handy to have one of the actual academics there (and not just three post-grads), but I think we fielded most of the queries pretty well in the most part. In our shipment, we’d send up a heckload of University prospectuses, leaflets and flyers (on everything from the whole Uni down to Faculty information) and a lot of this stuff came back – I guess we just overestimated the demand for paper materials, but it was better to have plenty left over than risk running out of publicity material. The same happened with ACCORD flyers, as we kind of over-estimated how many people would test/check out the new spacecraft rating system (head over here if you’d like to find out more), so we have plenty of ACCORD flyers to take to other events, or distribute by hand to spacecraft designers & manufacturers. In retrospect, it might have been worth going round some of the other stands when the exhibition hall was quiet and asking if they’d like to take a few minutes to test the rating system, but alas, we didn’t. Oh well.

And on that bombshell I shall end this post, but before I do, here are a few more of my photos from the conference. Enjoy:

UKSC-UoS_stand

[Zinar7]

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