Space scientist keeps up the Beagle legacy

Published on: 03 Dec 2015


STUDENTS were visited by a space scientist at a special event in memory of former pupil Colin Pillinger.
Post 16 Students at King’s Oak Academy and neighbouring Cabot Learning Federation academies were addressed by Dr Matt Taylor from the European Space Agency.
Dr Taylor was one of the leading astronomers in the Rosetta mission which landed a probe on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014.
The probe, named Philae, went into hibernation after landing in a shaded part of the comet but woke up earlier this year to send back pictures and information about the comet.
Dr Taylor told students about the mission and how it unfolded and gave them an insight into the ups and downs of being a space scientist at the cutting edge of exploring our solar system.  
The visit had been arranged in memory of space scientist Colin Pillinger who attended King’s Oak’s predecessor school Kingswood Grammar and went on to lead a high profile life in scientific research.
Professor Pillinger was instrumental in the UK involvement in the Rosetta mission and was the leader of the British Beagle 2 mission which landed on Mars in 2003.  
Tim Bush, head of chemistry at King’s Oak Academy who organised the visit, said: “This has been a unique opportunity for students to get a real insight into the organisation and innovation that is required to run a project of this magnitude.
“It has certainly made students aware of the interesting opportunities in science that are available to them after A-levels.”
Colin Pillinger’s family is working with staff to bring an inspirational speaker to King’s Oak each year.

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