One Day Spring Meeting – Robotic exploration of the Solar System

Saturday 30th Apr 201608:00

We are living in a golden age of Solar System exploration.  In 2015 the New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto, Rosetta continued its extraordinary exploration of comet 67P, there are rovers and orbiters exploring Mars, the Cassini spacecraft is still making its audacious tour of the Saturnian system and Dawn is in orbit around Ceres.  All of these missions and more are returning amazing data.  In 2016 we will see many other exciting developments including a planned “landing” of Rosetta on its comet, the Grand Finale of Cassini, the launch of the first of Europe’s Exomars spacecraft and NASA’s Juno arriving at Jupiter.  Many other missions are planned.

With the rapid evolution of the Internet amateurs can follow these missions in greater detail than ever before and can even participate in generating science, both through analysing data products from the spacecraft and through supporting observations from the ground.  The objective of this meeting is to discuss current and future mission plans and how amateurs can play a part.

Doors open at 09:30 for registration with the programme getting underway at 10:15.

The complete programme is:

Dr. Jeremy Shears (BAA President) – Introduction and welcome
Prof. Mark McCaughrean (ESA) – ESA’s Solar System exploration programme
James Canvin – Amateur use of Solar System spacecraft data
James Hannan – An introduction to the NEAS
Dr. Geraint Jones (MSSL/UCL) – The ESA JUICE mission to the icy moons of Jupiter
David Morris (e2V) – Designing cameras for deep space missions
Nick James – Ground-based amateur observation in support of planetary missions
Dr. John Mason – New Horizons, science at the edge of the Solar System

This is a joint meeting with our hosts, the North Essex Astronomical Society and it will take place at Chelmer Valley High School, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 7ER.  The city of Chelmsford is closely associated with these missions, from developing on-board cameras to providing ground station systems.   The school has its own observatory which should allow us to observe the Sun if it is clear. Chelmsford railway station has frequent trains from London, Liverpool Street and buses run from the station to within a short walk of the venue, see here for details. There is ample parking on site.

The entry cost is £3 (members of the BAA/NEAS and affiliated societies), £5 (non-members) and £2 (accompanied children under 16). This includes tea and coffee. An optional buffet lunch is available for £9 if booked in advance. For everything else prior booking is not required and you can pay on the day.

The meeting poster is available here.


Chelmer Valley High School, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 7ER

google map code for website

Booking Information

Booking for this meeting is now closed but you can pay on the door on the day. Lunch will not be available unless it has been booked.