Space Exploration Symposium 2022

Satellite Trails over Pinnacles. Image Credit: Joshua Rozells

November 21–22, 2022

ETLC Solarium, University of Alberta

This year we had sessions on Space Science and Exploration, and Space Medicine and Ethics. Our keynote speakers were Robert Smith from the Department of History, University of Alberta and Samantha Lawler from the Department of Physics, University of Regina.



Monday, November 21

Location: ETLC Solarium, University of Alberta



WATCH NOW Chris Herd

Final Assembly and Testing of the Ex-Alta 2, AuroraSat, and YukonSat CubeSats

WATCH NOW Thomas Ganley

The AlbertaSat Cleanroom: Design, Life Cycle, and Lessons Learned


Stratospheric X-Ray Radiation Measurement from a High Altitude Balloon

WATCH NOW Ben Harbarenko

Assembling Life: How Can Life Begin on Earth and Other Habitable Planets?

WATCH NOW Nicolas Randazzo

Breaking the ice on alien life - how permafrost microbiology can help us defrost the potential for life on icy moons and planets

WATCH NOW Bethlehem Abraham

Anemochory and the Origins of Life: a study of aerosol to vesicle transformation

WATCH NOW Serge Nader

Using Shock Metamorphism in Lunar Meteorites to find their Source Craters

WATCH NOW Tatiana Mijajlovic

Northwest Africa 14340: Petrological Characterization and Shock Metamorphism of a Lunar Regolith Breccia

WATCH NOW Radhika Saini

The El Ali Meteorite: Ancient History and New Minerals

WATCH NOW Chris Herd

Kephri project - mining astroid Bennu

WATCH NOW Gowtham Boyala
16:30 Break

rwsmith.jpgThe James Webb Space Telescope: Some Key Moments in its History

Robert Smith, University of Alberta.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)—a joint enterprise of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency—is the most complex and in some ways the most powerful telescope ever built. It's history—which includes a near-death experience at the hands of a U.S. congressional committee in 2011 when there was an effort to kill the project—raises a range of important issues, as well as lessons for the future of space astronomy. In this talk, Dr Robert W. Smith will discuss several key moments in the history of the JWST. 


18:00 Close


Tuesday, November 22

Location: ETLC Solarium, University of Alberta

14:00 The Story of the University of Alberta's First Sounding Rocket, RINGO

Ryan Tan
Colby Gauthier

14:20 Wyvern: Where we are on our journey to space WATCH NOW Christopher Robson
14:40 Leveraging bioengineered cartilage models and simulated spaceflight microgravity to probe knee osteoarthritis

WATCH NOW Adetola Adesida
15:00 Short-Term Response of Human Meniscus Models to Simulated Microgravity WATCH NOW Zhiyao (Hilda) Ma
15:20 Break
15:30 Space Ethics & Climate Change WATCH PT1
Travis Dumsday
16:00 Space Ethics In Pop Culture WATCH NOW Bill Anderson
16:30 Break

lawler500.jpgSafe, dark, clean use of orbit: Guidelines I wish Starlink and other satcons would follow

Samantha Lawler, University of Regina.

Starlink has launched thousands of communication satellites in the past 3 years, and already has permission to launch and operate tens of thousands more. Several other companies have similar scale megaconstellation plans, with the goal of providing for-profit satellite internet access to those who can afford it. Current satellite deployment and operation plans ignore many externalities: the globally-visible light pollution from these satellites causes serious disruption to research astronomy and to all stargazers worldwide, satellites contribute to significant atmospheric pollution, both on launch and re-entry, contribute to diffuse sky emission, and drastically increase the very real threat of Kessler Syndrome, which could render Low Earth Orbit unusable for decades. This talk will focus on regulations and best practices that satellite operators should be using to keep Low Earth Orbit safe and functional for future generations.


18:00 Roundtable discussion
Samantha Lawler
Michael Byers
Bill Anderson
19:00 Close


Keynote speakers

Dr Robert Smith

Department of History, University of Alberta

Robert Smith is a Professor of History at the University of Alberta. He has written extensively on the history of nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century astronomy, and his books include The Expanding Universe: Astronomy’s `Great Debate’ 1900-1931, The Space Telescope: A Study of NASA, Science, Technology, and Politics and Hubble Cosmos (co-authored with David DeVorkin.). More recently, he was an editor of and contributor to Neptune: From Grand Discovery to a World Revealed (2021). He has been a Fellow of the National Humanities Center and has held the Lindbergh Chair of Aerospace History at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. In 2020, he was awarded the American Astronomical Society’s Doggett Prize for Historical Astronomy. At the University of Alberta he has been a McCalla Professor and a Killam Annual Professor, and he was awarded the Faculty of Arts Award for Research Excellence in 2016 and for Undergraduate Teaching in 2020. He has been the official historian for the James Webb Space Telescope since 2002.

Dr Samantha Lawler

Department of Physics, University of Regina

Samantha Lawler is a professor of astronomy at Campion College and the Department of Physics at the University of Regina. She is an orbital dynamicist, studying the Kuiper Belt and exoplanet-dust disk systems. She is deeply concerned about the proliferation of satellite streaks that she's seen in her research images from large telescopes, and the satellite light pollution she's seen with her own eyes in the night sky from her farm outside Regina, Saskatchewan. Her research on discoveries in the Kuiper Belt and predictions for satellite pollution has been featured by CNN, CBC, NPR, Scientific American, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Wired Magazine, and many other international news outlets.