October 9, 2020 in

Who’s coming to the Jasper Dark Sky Festival

Sabrina Doyle
3 minute read
Written by Sabrina Doyle
Main image by Jeff Bartlett

Meet the speakers presenting at this year’s festival!

Jasper's annual celebration of starry skies always bring in huge talent. Past speakers at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival have included Chris Hadfield, Bill Nye, Emily Calandrelli and more. The 2020 festival will be a little different due to Covid-19 safety protocols—event capacities will be smaller, with more virtual sessions—but still offer fascinating and extraordinary explorations of the universe.

Here’s a few of the experts that will be speaking (some in person, some online) at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival.

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Shawna Pandya
Science for Breakfast: So...Space is Trying to Kill You!?
Oct. 24 & 25, from 9am to 10am in the Lobstick Hotel’s Skyline Lounge

Microgravity. Radiation. Isolation. Let's face it, space is dangerous. So how are people supposed to safely send people to the Moon, Mars and beyond? While attendees enjoy a delicious breakfast, Dr. Shawna Pandya—a physician, scientist-astronaut candidate, martial artist and veteran from the 2019 Jasper Dark Sky Festival—will talk about the medical and health challenges we face as we send humans to increasingly distant and ambitious places in space, the technologies that will get us there, and the less-often discussed aspects of human spaceflight (like how not to get voted off the Habitat, the challenges of reproduction in spaceflight, and more). Dr. Pandya will end by discussing future-looking concepts in space medicine, such as building permanent medical capabilities off-Earth, the science fiction technologies that will need to become reality in order to get us there...and how we will prepare for the first Moon-demic.

Robert Thirsk with special guest Nicole Stott
Virtual presentation: 3000 Orbits – Life Aboard the International Space Station
Oct. 24 from 4pm to 6pm at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

What happens in space, doesn’t stay in space! Join astronauts Robert Thirsk and Nicole Stott for an afternoon of personal storytelling about their 2009 mission on the International Space Station. In the first hour, blast off with Bob as he gives us the ins and outs — literally — of what it took to rocket up to the ISS from Kazakhstan, then return home in one piece. He’ll share tales from daily life orbiting the Earth as he, Nicole and the crew tackled scientific research, robotic operations, maintenance and repair work. Nicole Stott will join him for the second hour to talk about life after the ISS, the changes and opportunities in space exploration with the advent of SpaceX, Blue Origin, and others, about the exciting cutting edge of space exploration on Venus, Mars, and the Moon. The speakers will not be there in-person, however the moderator, Alan Nursall, will be in-person.

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Nicole Stott


Robert Thirsk

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Torah Kachur

Torah Kachur
Science for Breakfast: Our Microbiome on Mars
Oct. 17 & 18, from 9am to 10am in the Lobstick Hotel’s Skyline Lounge

When we head off to Mars, we aren't just sending humans and extraordinary technology, we are also sending millions of our happy passengers. These microbes live in our gut, on our skin and pretty much everywhere else in our body. Many of them provide vitamins, ward off various illnesses and might even boost brain function; Microbes are essential for our health. Understanding how our microbiome is affected by spaceflight and long-term space habitation is crucial to the success of any mission. At this tasty event, participants will enjoy a meal while CBC science columnist and University of Alberta professor pulls back the curtain on the microbes that call us home.

Rob Meyerson and Adam Stelzner
Virtual evening
Oct. 24 from 8pm to 10pm at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon in 1969, humanity has looked to Mars as the logical next step for human space exploration. Is living on Mars in our future? What will it take to get there and what will it take to stay there? Should we stop at the Moon on the way, or go straight for Mars? Join leading NASA engineer Adam Steltzner and Delalune Space founder Rob Meyerson for a conversation about space exploration, the red planet and the human need to explore. The speakers will not be there in-person, however the moderator, Niki Wilson, will be in-person.

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Adam Steltzner

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Rob Meyerson