Category Archives: Space Exploration

New Paper: Documenting Rover Science

In this latest paper, my colleagues and I outlined some challenges for mission documentation through our experiences on the 2016 CanMars analogue mission.

Documentation is the process by which you record major events and decision making in a mission. This is usually done so that future mission designers can learn from past missions. Although, most documentation actually gets used be people coming in to mission control after a shift or day off (since its a record of what happened while they were gone).

Analogue missions are when researchers practice operating rovers by using Earth instead of Mars or the Moon. It’s obviously a lot easier, safer, and cheaper, and is perfect for the real thing.A lot of graduates of analogue missions go on to work with rovers in space exploration.

In our case, we were working with a rover operating in the desert near Hanksville Utah, while our mission control was in London, Ontario.

MESR

Our little rover was called MESR (pronounced mee-zer) (Image: CSA, 2016)

Our paper is published in the September 2019 issue of Planetary and Space Science and can be found here.

In short we found a few things:

  • Up-front decisions have to be made about how detailed the in-room discussion will be recorded (there are trade-offs either way).
  • It’s practically impossible to capture all decision making on a mission (the ideal objective of documentation). All of the small conversations that go into a decisions occur in many undocumented places. The best thing to do is to make sure overall deciding factors are stated clearly in open deliberation and for recording.
  • Documentarians don’t have to be experts, in fact there may be value in non-experts recording the decision making process (along with experts). A mix may be best.
  • We suggest room design is not irrelevant to mission success, as mundane as it sounds. Room layout can affect documentation, at least in our case. A mission might as well consider this in mission control design.

Enjoy!

Feature image (CSA, 2016).

Critical Geographies of Outer Space Session at AAG 2018: New Orleans

The full preliminary program for the 2018 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting has been released here.

The AAG is the largest gathering of geographers in the world, and for the fourth straight year, myself and Dr. Julie Klinger are hosting a session on the Critical Geographies of Outer Space.

Our session will take place at 5:20 PM THURSDAY April 12th in Napoleon A3 at the Sheraton (3rd Floor).

Here are the paper presentations we will have in the session.


Danny Bednar, PhD Candidate & Lecturer, Western University, Department of Geography

  • Deconstructing and Constructing the Outer Space Treaty for Critical Environmental Geopolitics

Megan O’Kane, PhD Student, Queen’s University Belfast, School of Natural and Built Environment

  • The Ludic Geopolitics of Extraterrestrial Videogame Spaces

Dr. Rory Rowan, University of Zurich, Department of Geography

  • The NewSpace State: The Commercial Space Sector and State Formation in Outer Space

Dr. Julie Klinger, Boston University, Frederick S. Pardee School Of Global Studies

  • Discussant

See you in New Orleans!

 

 

Podcast: Western Gradcast Lunar Special

In order to promote this Saturday’s International Observe the Moon event here at Western University, myself along with colleagues Zach Morse and Patrick Hill recorded a special edition of Gradcast all about the Moon.

Gradcast is the podcast and radio show of the Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) here at Western.

The episode can be downloaded here.

For those interested in the public event, this Saturday the 28th, details can be found here.

Thanks again to everyone involved for putting this together and I hope you enjoy the show.

Here’s how it breaks down:

00:00 – 6:34 Introductions and International Observe the Moon Night at Western info.

6:35 – 15:20 Lunar/Planetary Science Facts and Discussion

15:21 – 28:09 We answer common questions about the Moon

 

New Podcast: Talking Climate Change Adaptation, Geography, and the Outer Space Treaty

As part of the local Campus radio (CHRW 94.9) I recently took part in the Gradcast Radio podcast to discuss, among other things, my PhD work on climate change adaptation in Canada.

The podcast can be downloaded here

Here’s how the conversation breaks down:

00:00 – 14:47 – What is Climate Change Adaptation and how are governments in Canada taking action?

14:48 – 22:16 – What is Geography (at the university level) and how do we “make places”?

22:17 – 27:20 – What is the Outer Space Treaty and how are we making places…in space?

Thanks again to Roger, Navaneeth and the Gradcast production team for having me, it was a blast.

Public Talk: The Outer Space Treaty at 50: What’s in it, and Where is it Going?

 

I will be giving a public talk as part of the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration at Western University weekly forum on the topic of the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty.

Talk Summary: October 10th, 2017, marked 50 years since the Outer Space Treaty entered into force. In it’s five decades, the treaty has been signed by 105 nations, including every space-faring government in the world and is often referred to as the single most important document related to outer space politics. While the treaty has been noted for it’s optimistic language that focuses on international cooperation and scientific exploration, it has also been contested by a variety of long-standing and emerging interests within the broader space community.What exactly is in the treaty and what parts are contested? This talk will cover the major components of the Outer Space Treaty, focusing mostly on Articles I-X. Further, current and future interests such as those related to orbital debris mitigation, resource extraction, off-Earth colonization, and increased militarization will be discussed regarding future challenges for the OST and the continuing debate of who, and what, space is for.

October 20th, 12:30 PM, Western University, Physics and Astronomy Building, Rm. 100