10.30am Friday 2nd February 2024

Megan is a professional astrophysicist and science communicator, currently a Senior Lecturer in Astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston where she is also Course Leader for the BSc Astronomy by Distance Learning programme. As well as teaching undergraduate courses, Megan studies galaxies, black holes, and supernovae in the nearby universe with continent-sized radio telescope networks.  She has more than 20 years of public engagement experience, regularly appearing in the media to talk about astronomy and space news stories, gives public lectures and schools workshops all over the country, takes rockets to music festivals, and delivers STEM-focussed teacher training.  During the pandemic she delivered online planetarium shows to more than 1400 Brownies and Guides, for which she was awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to Girlguiding.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and President of Shropshire Astronomical Society.

Fly me to the moon?

This year has already seen significant activity heading towards lunar space, not all of it entirely successful.  Peregrine 1 may not have made it all the way to the Moon, and Japan’s Moon Sniper made history even though it encountered problems.  While the first human crewed mission to return to the Moon has been delayed to at least 2025, there is still plenty of lunar exploration to look forward to this year.  With missions aiming to conduct the first sample return from the lunar far side, and hopes for the first commercial lunar landing now resting with Intuitive Machines, it feels like a new space race is under way.  But why should we go back?  What questions still need to be answered?  Is a long-term human presence on the Moon viable, or sensible?  And what risks might there be in this new era of activity on the lunar surface?

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