How do you measure the temperature of a whole planet? How do we find out what stars are made of? How do you build a comet? What does the structure of mars have to do with finding aliens? How can we use data from the atmosphere to make life better on Earth? These are questions that chemistry can help us answer! Questions that people are finding the answers to right now.

On Tuesday 20th November we held a 'Chemistry at work' event here at the National Space Centre. Year 9 students from different schools joined scientists to learn how studying chemistry can lead to a career in the space sector.

Catherine Fitzsimons and Marios Panagi are scientists from the National Centre for Earth Observation. They talked to us about monitoring the earth with light. They use light to monitor land, air and water from the ground, sky and space.

Lauren Selby BSc, Experimental Geochemist at the British Geological Survey made some mini volcanoes and talked all things geochemistry.

Dr Mark S. D. Read is a Senior Lecturer in Computational Solid-State Chemistry at the University of Birmingham. He spoke about Infra-Red Spectroscopy and how it's used to determine the elements Stars are made of.

What's an electron microscope and what can it show us? Researchers from the University of Nottingham, Dr Michael Fay and Kayleigh Fung, answered these questions for us in their workshop 'It's a small Universe'.

Finally, National Space Academy Lead Educator, Judith Green, showed us what makes up a comet. And we had a go at making our own!

The Chemistry at Work event was an opportunity for students to put chemistry into context; to see real life examples of how the science is used by real people.

Comments from year 9 included "I really enjoyed the space trip as it was a great learning experience and I enjoy everything about space!!!" and "Now, I know I want to be a scientist."

A teacher from Limehurst Academy shared this picture with us on twitter:

Limehurst Academy at the National Space Centre

We hope to see some of the students back here in a few years' (!) time, telling us about their new careers in the space sector and inspiring a new generation of space scientists!

This event was made possible thanks to funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the generous time donated by the speakers and their organisations.


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