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Bern’s journey into space

27 Sep 2017, 11:51 UTC
Bern’s journey into space

From a historic Zenit rocket and the famous Apollo solar wind experiment to the Mars camera CaSSIS and the CHEOPS space telescope: Many of the 9000 visitors of the event «Nacht der Forschung» on 16 September 2017 at the University of Bern had a look at 50 years of space research. «We have carried the Swiss – or the Bernese flag – far out into space,» summarized Peter Wurz, leader of the Space Research and Planetology division (WP) of the Bernese Physics Institute, in his talk.
The CHEOPS team answers a lot of questions about the space telescope. (Images PlanetS)
The Zenit rocket attached to the ceiling of the crowded lecture hall attracts all the public’s attention. Immersed in red light, it even emits a little bit of smoke – a perfect start for looking back on 50 years of space research. A similar rocket produced by Contraves in Zürich launched the first Bernese instrument for space research on 27 October 1967. «Our payload was simple, it measured the density and temperature of the atmosphere between 90 and 140 kilometer,» explains Peter Wurz, who also presents the famous solar wind experiment that was the only non-American experiment aboard the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. See podcast: https://tube.switch.ch/videos/0bae556b . Whereas the full-sized foil is a replica, the precious smaller piece in a transparent box has really travelled to the Moon and back, before it was analysed in Bern to find new results about the chemical content of the Sun.
The Bernese speciality is building mass spectrometers as the one aboard the comet probe Rosetta. Another one of these high-precision instruments will be sent to Jupiter’s icy moons with a spacecraft called JUICE (Jupiter Icy moons Explorer). Launch is planned for 2022, arrival in 2030. Already on site is the Mars camera CaSSIS that was built in Bern. First images show that the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System works very well while orbiting Mars, as Nicolas Thomas, Director of the Physics Institute of the University of Bern and Principal Investigator of CaSSIS explained in his lecture showing the way CaSSIS works by performing a little dance. See podcast: https://tube.switch.ch/videos/2dd4b9d1 . In the exhibition, visitors feel like walking on Mars thanks to 3D glasses and in an experiment with sand, dry ice and water researchers reproduce a possible formation process of Mars gullies.
Tinkering a spacecraft.
Creating mini-comets, making star charts and tinkering space probes were big hits, especially with children, whereas the technically interested visitors were fascinated by the real Structural and Thermal Model of the CHEOPS space telescope presented by the engineers who are building the instrument. CHEOPS will observe exoplanets that pass in front of their stars and will help to get a list of VIPs – «Very Important Planets» that should be observed by the future large telescopes, as Willy Benz, Principal Investigator of CHEOPS, explained. See podcast: https://tube.switch.ch/videos/d88f6e38
As CHEOPS will observe planets that are light years away, our own solar system still has surprises in store. Maybe there exists a ninth planet far out, beyond Neptune. This planet would be a mini ice giant, a smaller version of Uranus and Neptune, no pleasant place with a temperature of –226 degree Celsius, as Christoph Mordasini, Professor at the University of Bern, explained. At the moment, the large Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii is looking for Planet 9. Its most likely position is in the constellation of Orion. «If you want to search for it yourself, you have to look there,» Christoph Mordasini advised the audience at the end of the lectures. See podcast: https://tube.switch.ch/videos/0823cf36.
 
 

01_P9160173Generationen (von links): Prof. Ernest Kopp, Prof. Hans Baldiger, Adrian Etter und Prof. Willy Benz.

Credit: Guido Schwarz02_P9160053Kometen "kochen" an der "Nacht der Forschung".

Credit: Guido Schwarz05_DSC_1473Ausgerüstet mit Schutzbrille und Handschuhen geht es an die Arbeit mit Trockeneis.

Credit: Sylviane Blum07_P9160169Eindrücklich! Bilder vom Mars und vom Kometen Tschuri in 3D.

Credit: Guido Schwarz08_DSC_1511Besucher neben einer historischen Raketenspitze.

Credit: Sylviane Blum09_P9160202Prototyp des Sonnenwind-Experiments, das mit Apollo zum Mond geflogen ist.

Credit: Guido Schwarz10_DSC_1485Prof. Kevin Heng mit seinem Sohn auf der Dachterrasse des ExWi-Gebäudes.

Credit: Sylviane Blum11_DSC_1492Besucherinnen und Besucher schauen sich im Sonnenteleskop auf der Dachterrasse unser Zentralgestirn an.

Credit: Sylviane Blum12_P9160194aDas Team des Mars-Sand-Experiments. Hier wird gezeigt, was die Wissenschaft auf dem roten Planeten erforscht.

Credit: Guido Schwarz13_DSC_1466Das Experten-Team beim CHEOPS-Labor.

Credit: Sylviane Blum14_P9160263Alexandre Emsenhuber, Esther Linder und Dr. Daniel Kitzmann mit einem Modell des CHEOPS-Weltraumteleskops.

Credit: Guido Schwarz15_P9160005Ready to tinker! Die Bastelstunde ist eröffnet!

Credit: Guido Schwarz20_DSC_1476Gross und Klein basteln sich ein CHEOPS-Weltraumteleskop.

Credit: Sylviane Blum22_DSC_148224_DSC_148025_P9160276OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 26_P9160284OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 27_P9160045OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 28_P9160071OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 29_P9160016OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 30_P9160055OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 31_P9160165OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 32_P9160207OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 33_DSC_151634_P9160184OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 35_P9160083OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 36_P9160260OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 37_P9160082OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA40_P9160118OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 41_P9160123OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 42_P9160228OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 43_P9160249OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA44_P9160212OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 45_P9160150OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA46_P9160067OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 48_P9160059OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 49_P9160158OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 50_P9160050OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 51_P9160086OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 60_P9160105OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 61_DSC_148362_P9160002OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 63_DSC_150365_P9160030OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 66_P9160063OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA67_P9160198OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 68_P9160287OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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