Oct. 17, 2016

Where No Person Has Gone Before: The Four People You MUST See at SPACETalks

Hey dark sky lovers!

Want to know where you can explore the universe, meet aliens, travel through space and learn about radical hairdos all in one night? Come to SPACEtalks, a not-to-be-missed evening that combines Ted-talk style performances with lively debate and questions from the audience. This year, the theme is Where No Person Has Gone Before: A Look At The Possibility Of Life In Space. Come grapple with big questions, like: Can we live somewhere other than Earth? Is there alien life out there? How do you fix a toilet in a Mars habitat? And how does Mohawk Guy keep his hair looking so amazing?

Let's meet the stars of the show!

1. Bobak Ferdowsi: A Super Smart Guy With Rad Hair


When the Mars rover Curiosity landed on the red planet, the eyes of the world were watching. If all went well, this one-ton robot would search for life on Mars and provide valuable information about the climate and history of the red planet. But as the rover made its harrowing descent, the world also fell in love with one of mission control’s very charismatic systems engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL): the wild-haired Bobak Ferdowsi. As Curiosity landed safely, Ferdowsi gained international fame as the “Mohawk Guy.”

Ferdowsi blows apart scientist stereotypes by rocking radical hairdos to celebrate important events at the JPL, but beneath the styling gel is a man truly as super-smart as, well, a rocket scientist. He holds aerospace engineering/physics degrees from the University of Washington and MIT, and along with helping safely guide Curiosity to Mars, was a science planner on the Saturn-bound Cassini-Huyens spacecraft mission. Next up: he’ll help send a spacecraft to investigate icy Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Is there life there? Could WE live there? Come out to the show and ask him.

David Bloom/ Edmonton Sun

2. Alan Nursall: The Man Discovery Channel Is Trying to Kill

Alan Nursall wears many toques. By day he runs the Telus World Of Science Centre - Edmonton, bringing the Universe to science-lovers across Alberta and beyond. On the weekends, he wanders into the weird corners of Canada and the US, where he explores science for Daily Planet, the flagship science and tech show for Discovery Channel Canada. Whether parachute training at CFB Trenton, Bungee jumping over the Ottawa River, or getting swept up in a wind tunnel, Nursall risks life and limb to bring science to your living room. Now that’s dedication! With years of making science fun and a Master’s Degree in Science in his back pocket, you are in good hands with this host of SPACETalks. 

David Bloom/Edmonton Sun/Postmedia Network

3. Nadia Drake: Fearless in the Face of Spiders and Space Science

Nadia Drake is no slacker. Before she became an acclaimed science journalist, she acquired a PhD in genetics from Cornell, and had a six-year career as a principal dancer with the Ithaca Ballet in New York. Now she is regular contributor to National Geographic, and has worked as a reporter for Wired and Science. She writes about a diverse range of subjects including giant spiders, human ancestry, and especially astronomy and space science. Ask her about things like exoplanets and their moons, the search for extraterrestrial life, and human space exploration. You could also as her what it’s like to grow up as the daughter of a famous astrophysicist– her Dad is Frank Drake, who developed the mathematics to help estimate the odds of finding intelligent life in the Universe. 

Check out Nadia’s writing on our SPACETalks topic: Will the Real Earth-like Planets Please Stand Up? 

4. Ross Lockwood: A Martian Among Us

What’s it like to live on Mars? Ross Lockwood has an idea. He spent 120 days under a dome with five other participants in the HI-SEAS 2 Mars Analog study. High on the side of the Mona Loa Volcano in Hawaii there are no plants, animals or other people – a landscape space scientists consider a good simulation of the volcanic Tharsis Region of Mars. Becoming a Martian was part of Lockwood’s work to be accepted into astronaut training. He already has a PhD in Condensed Matter Physics, and in building up his repertoire of astro-skills has done everything from becoming a dive master,  studying 3D printing, to researching clouds at 80 kilometers above Earth while experiencing micro-gravity. He says he’s taken this Chris Hadfield quote to heart: “I wasn’t destined to become an astronaut, I had to make myself into one.”


Join us at SPACEtalks at 6PM on Saturday, October 22 at Centennial Field.
Local tip: Make sure to buy your tickets on www.jasperdarksky.travel !

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