Space and beyond: Science Rendezvous at York

York University will throw open the doors of its space science and engineering facilities to hundreds of future astronauts on Saturday, May 10. York is participating in Science Rendezvous, a new full day event that is free and open to the public. During Science Rendezvous, leading science and technology institutes, including York, will offer free tours, events, demonstrations and lectures. Participants can register for the day and pick up a program in the lobby of the Computer Science & Engineering Building. Registration opens at 12:30pm.

"York University’s event will be very unique," says Elissa Strome, research officer for the Faculty of Science & Engineering. "We are opening the doors to our world-renowned space science and engineering facilites to showcase them to Canada’s future astronauts and space scientists."

At 1pm, participants are invited to come out and hear Alain Berinstain (right), director of Planetary Exploration & Space Astronomy for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), who will deliver the keynote address for Science Rendezvous at York. Berinstain is the supervisor of the CSA’s Phoenix team and a space scientist. He’ll be discussing the joint NASA/CSA Phoenix mission to Mars, which is expected to land on the red planet later in May. Berinstain’s lecture will take place in the Computer Science & Engineering Building, on York’s Keele campus.

At 1:30pm, there will be a book launch of Canada’s Fifty Years in Space: The COSPAR Anniversary, by Gordon Shepherd and Agnes Kruchio. Shepherd is the director of the Centre for Research in Earth and Space Science & Engineering and professor emeritus of space science. Kruchio is a cofounder of MediaTropes and the author of Polar Science: The Legacy of Canada’s Participation in the International Polar and Geophysical Years. She has also curated exhibitions on Canadian polar and space research for the Canada Science Museum. The authors will be signing copies of the book. They will be joined by Rob Godwin, publisher, Apogee Books, who will also show some amazing space video sequences.

The public is then invited to take a Space INVENTour of York’s cutting-edge space science and engineering laboratories located in the Petrie Science & Engineering Building on the Keele campus. Participants will be able to see prototypes of new innovations in space science and engineering. Suitable for parents and children, York’s INVENTours, which run from 2 to 5pm, offer an opportunity to meet University professors, graduate students and researchers in real labs and research environments. There will be hands-on experiences, demonstrations and lectures – something for everyone. Locations are listed in York’s Science Rendezvous program.

York’s Space INVENTours include:

  • What on Earth is Space Engineering? – Participants can see the new and exciting equipment researchers are building to send to space.
  • An Elevator to Space – York’s space scientists have designed a Space Elevator. Think you can do a better job? Build your own Space Elevator in York’s arts and crafts centre.
  • Mars Rovers – See models and info on the University’s Northern Light Rover. Meet the York University Rover Team and watch them put their rover through its paces. Children can colour their own Mars Rover.
  • What Makes a Rocket Go? Meet York’s very own rocket scientists and see the thrusters they designed. Build your own rocket in the arts and crafts centre.
  • What Kind of Instruments Are Used in Space? – Come and see what’s special about space cameras.

Running concurrent to the INVENTours, York is offering participants a chance to learn even more about the Phoenix Mission to Mars. Organizers are offering an opportunity to come and see videos and meet York scientists involved in developing the instruments aboard the NASA/CSA mission.

Above: Participants in York’s Science Rendezvous event on May 10 will have an opportunity to learn more about the NASA/CSA Phoenix mission to Mars. Image courtesy of NASA.

There will also be an opportunity to view images from the Hubble Space Telescope and see close up the spectacular images sent back to Earth over the 18 years since the telescope launched. The image gallery will be on display throughout the day in the Petrie Science & Engineering building.

Participants will get a chance to learn more about the Optical Spectrograph & InfraRed Imaging System (OSIRIS), which is one of two instruments aboard the Odin satellite. Odin is a Swedish-led satellite project, funded jointly by Sweden, Canada, Finland  and France, and implemented by the Swedish Space Corporation. Odin was launched on February 20, 2001 by the Russian army with a mobile launch vehicle from Svobodny in eastern Siberia. OSIRIS measures light in the atmosphere from space. Younger astronauts will have a chance to do their own experiments.

The York University Observatory will also be open for tours. While viewing will not be available until after 9pm, weather permitting, the tour offers an opportunity to see the 40 and 60cm computer-controlled telescopes. The observatory is in the Petrie Science & Engineering Building.

Left: The observatory

Ever wondered how astronauts tell which way is up? York researchers are investigating the effects of a zero-gravity environment on human perception. See videos and posters detailing their work in the Petrie Science & Engineering Building.

Geomatics engineering involves wiring the world through revolutionary positioning, sensing, tracking and three-dimensionalizing technologies. York is a Canadian leader in this field. Come and see for yourself how geomatics engineering technologies are used for disaster monitoring, urban planning, navigation and Google Earth.

Then, at 5pm, Café Scientifique at York gears up with "The Race to Mars… Should We Go?". The event is for those who are 19 years and older. Guest speakers will discuss the pros and cons of exploring the red planet. Café Scientifique will take place in the Grad Lounge on the Keele campus. The pub opens at 4:30pm, get there early as seating is limited.

After Café Scientifique, York will screen the PBS award-winning documentary Seeing In the Dark by Timothy Ferris. This stimulating and thought-provoking documentary takes viewers on an exploration of the universe in high-definition. The show begins at 7:30pm in the Price Family Cinema, 109 Accolade East Building, Keele campus.

From 9 to 11pm, Science Rendezvous at York winds down with a tour of the night sky given by the York University Astronomy Club at the observatory.  This event is contingent on the weather. 

Visit the Science Rendezvous Web site for more information and for updates.