site.btaFormer NASA Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria Answers Students' Questions at Hello Space 4.0 Youth Science Festival in Sofia

Former NASA Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria Answers Students' Questions at Hello Space 4.0 Youth Science Festival in Sofia
Former NASA Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria Answers Students' Questions at Hello Space 4.0 Youth Science Festival in Sofia
Hello Space 4.0 Youth Science Festival in Sofia, June 25, 2024 (BTA Photo)

The Hello Space 4.0 science festival took place in Sofia Tech Park on Tuesday with special guest former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who answered participants’ questions about his work. The forum gathers 1,000 children from all over Bulgaria with an interest in science and space. The event kicked off with a video address by Rear Admiral Louis Tillier, Director of the European Union Satellite Centre SATCEN.

The Director of the Centre stressed that SATCEN's expert work requires specialists in fields including natural sciences, technology, arts and mathematics.

''Remember this - you have the power to dream boldly and build a better future for the development of STEM technologies, education and professions. Together, we can be safer and more secure,'' Louis Tillier said.

US Ambassador to Bulgaria Kenneth Merten said the Embassy once again partnered with the Atlantic Club to organize the forum. He thanked Dr. Solomon Passy - for his leadership in organizing this remarkable science festival, and for his dedication to promoting space exploration.

Passy noted that the attendance of astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria was made possible thanks to the support of the US Embassy in Bulgaria. 

The American record holder for the most launches into outer space - Michael Lopez-Alegria, former NASA astronaut and active astronaut commander at Axiom Space, came directly from the USA to talk live about his missions and the many records he has set. Traditionally, the astronaut also answered ten pre-selected questions, chosen through a student contest.

Prof. Andrew Coates,  an expert and participant in numerous space missions, gave a lecture entitled "In Search of Life on Mars". He said that Mars is very different now from what it was 3.8 billion years ago. 'We think this planet was like Earth - with oceans, lakes on the surface, clouds in the atmosphere, protected by a magnetic field. The conditions there were like that, at about the same time that life on Earth arose," Coates said. 

He told the audience about an upcoming mission to Mars that will be carried out in 2030. The scientist also talked about some of the possible planets that could become the future "second home'' of humanity.

It became clear that possible planets for settlement were Mars and Venus; Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons; Europa, the fourth largest natural satellite of Jupiter; and Titan, the largest satellite of Saturn, and the second largest in the solar system.

Coates talked about past missions to the surface of the Red Planet, upcoming ones, research that has been done, and research that is yet to be done. He showed attendees a short video about what is expected to happen when the Rosalind Franklin rover lands in 2030 and what its first "steps" on the Red Planet will look like.

"Other missions are coming that will look for opportunities for life in the solar system. Europeans have a key role to play in this, and we hope that Bulgaria will take an active part in the future," he concluded his lecture.

Caretaker Education Minister Galin Tsokov addressed the participants by saying that it is an honour for him to attend an event dedicated to "the vastness of space and the constructive power of science, because a nation is only as big as its dreams. Its dreams of economic prosperity, of technological excellence, its dreams of social welfare, of a good education oriented towards the lives of its children," he said.

At the festival, children and students had the opportunity to participate in a variety of interactive experiences and hear lectures by leading leaders in science and technology.

More than 40 booths, dozens of workshops and numerous demonstrations were prepared for the festival. One of the most exciting highlights was a Special Forces parachute jump demonstration.

The festival is organized for the fourth consecutive year by the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria and STEAM and Space Cluster Bulgaria, with the general support of the US Embassy in Bulgaria, Sofia Tech Park, and under the patronage of the Minister of Education and Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria.

/YV/

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By 03:24 on 20.07.2024 Today`s news

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