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Region chosen for global lunar event

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By Fiona Reid
Region chosen for global lunar event

DUMFRIES and Galloway will next month host the European Lunar Symposium 2024, with some of the world’s most prominent scientists attending.

Described as “the premier Moon-focussed meeting in Europe”, it will be attended by over 150 members of the international lunar science and exploration community.

It will be hosted by The Open University (OU) Scotland at The Crichton campus from June 16-21 and will see members exchanging ideas and discussing the latest findings from their research in lunar exploration.

High-profile speakers will include representatives from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the UK Space Agency (UKSA).

But there will also be a schools programme and public talks in the hope of inspiring many people locally.

Professor Mahesh Anand, OU Professor of Planetary Science and Exploration, has co-chaired the symposium at various locations across Europe since its inception in 2012, but this is the first time it will be held in Scotland.

He said: “As well as bringing colleagues from across the world to this beautiful part of the country, I am also keen to influence younger generations and encourage them to believe that they too can make a big difference in lunar exploration – and that they don’t need to go to the Moon to do it!

“There needs to be a legacy from this event and by inspiring young people to get involved in the space economy, I feel confident that these young people will go on to pursue their interests and make a significant impact in the future that will be of benefit to the wider society.”

The schools programme will include design sessions and writing competitions for pupils in the run-up, as well as lunar-themed workshops, run by OU academics and NASA representatives, and a career talk from the members of space industry on Wednesday June 19 at The Crichton.

Furthermore, Dr Fujimoto Masaki, deputy director general of JAXA, will give a public talk about Japan’s Moon landing in January of this year, along with other speakers involved in recent and upcoming lunar missions, at a public event on June 20.

Dumfries and Galloway was successful in its hosting bid partly due to the region’s strong association with Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon.

Professor Anand added: “It is a real privilege to be hosting ELS 2024 in the South of Scotland and to acknowledge Dumfries and Galloway’s existing connection with the Moon and lunar exploration. Everyone here is so proud of Neil Armstrong and the fact that he referred to the ‘Muckle Toon’ (Langholm) as home.

“I know that many ELS delegates are looking forward to hearing stories from the locals about their experience of Neil Armstrong’s visit to the region in 1972 and learning more about the local area.”

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