MSc in Space Science and Technology

My name is Monica Grady and I’m Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at The OpenUniversity. The OU is really, really
well placed to offer a Masters in SpaceSciences. The OU specialises in
supported distance learning, so you’renot doing it by yourself. And the staff who are involvedin this Masters, we’ve all been involved in space missions. We’ve been involved inthe design and the build of instruments,
in the interpretation of the data thatcomes from it, and so we know what it’s like to be part of those teamsand we really want to convey that
interest and that excitement to thepeople who are going to follow in our
footsteps, who are actually going to bepart of the next set of space missions. Hello, I’m Mark Jones. I’m a Senior Lecturer at The Open University and I’m the academic lead for the new Mastersin Space Science and Technology, and I’m
also the module team chair for our newMasters level module on Space Science. I’m an astronomer and all my researchhas been based on observations made from space-based platforms, so I’ve worked onx-ray infrared observatories over 20
years or so. The Masters in Space Science and Technology is designed for people
who want to either seek employment inthe space sector or to go on to do
further academic research in the spacesector. It’s designed for people from a
wide range of backgrounds, mainly fromphysical science backgrounds,
but also from geology or chemistry orengineering or mathematics, and it seeks
to build up not only the knowledgethat you need to work in the space
sector but also to develop the skills thatare sought by employers in the space sector. The qualification is split into threeparts, three stages. So the first stage is
an Introduction to Space Science whichgives students the background about the
principles of making physicalmeasurements in the space environment
and using case studies to illustratethose points very, very clearly.
The second stage is to do with thedevelopment of professional skills that
are important in the space sector andthose are split into technical skills, such
as programming or otherengineering-related skills, and the other
professional development that we have atthe second stage is really to do with
project management or technologymanagement. The third stage is
to conduct a project, an academic projectin space science or space technology under the supervision of atutor in an area that’s of interest to
the student. The unique feature about the Masters program is that the Introduction to Space Science is basedon a case study approach using four
missions that we have experience of, andthree of those missions with direct
academic experience of academic members of staffat The Open University, so they bring
their academic expertise to actuallyillustrate how space missions really work. My role in the Masters course is the responsibility for the chunk of the
course about the Rosetta mission to acomet. The OU’s involvement in the
Rosetta mission was to build aninstrument called Ptolemy which was on
the Philae lander. It took about 10 yearsto design and build the instrument, and
then it took 10 years for the Rosettaspacecraft to get to the comet before
Philae was launched. The idea of theinstrument was to sniff the gases which
were coming from the nucleus of thecomet. Of course the Rosetta mission is
not the only mission that The OU’s beeninvolved in. In the past we were involved
in the Beagle 2 mission to Mars; we werethe leading partner for that. And also we
were involved in the Huygens part of theCassini-Huygens mission to Saturn.
Currently, as well as the Rosetta missionwe’re involved in Gaia, which is mapping
all the stars, and in the future we’regoing to be involved in doing something
for missions to the moon; we’re alsoinvolved in the Euclid space telescope;
we’re involved in the ExoMars mission toMars, two parts of the mission: the
trace gas orbiter and also the lander. Sothere’s loads of stuff still to come. My name’s Andrew Norton. I’m Professor of Astrophysics Education here at The OU, and on the Space Science Masters I’mworking on one of the particular case
studies on the GaiaSatellite. So my particular area of
research is in astronomy, and inparticular what you might call time
domain analysis. So I’m looking at howstars and galaxies and so on, how their
light output varies with time. This is anarea of big data that’s increasingly
becoming important in astronomy. Sosomething like the Gaia Satellite which
we’re including in the Space ScienceMasters, that will continually scan the
sky for years at a time, measuring thebrightness; measuring the positions; measuring the spectra of millions and millions ofstars. From that we can extract all sorts
of information, and that’s the sort ofthing I’m interested in. How stars vary
with time; whether they’re multiple starsorbiting around each other; whether
they’re stars that are pulsating in andout; whether they’re stars that undergo
transient events flaring up orexploding. And the sort of things we’re
going to do in the Space Science Mastersreally completely fit in with the sort
of research I’m doing in time domain astronomy. The Space Science module that introduces the Masters program will make a lot of use of remote
experimentations. We have an OpenSTEM laboratory here with experimental kits that are relevant to space science, andstudents will be operating that kit
over the internet and doing realphysical measurements as part of their
studies. Students will be controlling experiments here at The OU over the internet, whether that’s laboratoryequipment such as electron microscopes
or particle detectors; whether it’srobotic telescopes either here or in
Tenerife. We even have a robotic MarsRover in a Mars shed over there where
we have a Martian landscape in our shed,and students will control and drive this
Mars Rover on the simulated landscape todo experiments as if they were
controlling the real Rover on Mars. We’re also going to focus the Space Science Masters on certain skills that willparticularly involve teamwork. Just as in
a real space mission, our students willhave to work together, collaborate in a
team to achieve the outcomes. We will alsoinclude scientific computer programming
in the Space Science Masters, becausefor all these space science projects
when the data comes back youhave to write computer programs to
understand and analyse those data, so wewill teach Python Programming in the
Space Science Masters so that ourstudents can analyse space weather data; so that they can analyse data ontransient astronomical objects coming
down from the Gaia Satellite. All ofthese sort of data projects are vital
for space science and we’re going to betraining the students to do exactly that. We expect students who qualify with the Masters in Space Science and Technology will be well equipped to obtainemployment in the space sector. There is
a growth in the space sector at themoment, particularly in terms of what’s
called downstream applications, that’susing space-based data, and our Masters
qualification has an emphasis on the useof data obtained in the space
environment. Alternatively, students mightgo on to follow a more research or academic career path, and we think that thisMasters will set up people very well
for PhD level research in space science.

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