Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Irish space pioneer to deliver Inspirefest keynote

The Irishwoman behind this week's astonishing signal from a comet on the other side of the Solar System will provide new information about the achievement in a keynote address at Inspirefest 2015.

Professor Susan McKenna Lawlor will join a panel of space visionaries to discuss humanity's next steps in the cosmos on Thursday 18th June at Inspirefest 2015, a new, three-day, international sci-tech event aiming to showcase diversity and leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) which takes place from 18th to 20th June at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin’s Silicon Docks.

Temperatures are continuing to rise inside the Irish telecommunications package that sent the historic signal at the weekend, signalling the reawakening of Europe's comet lander, Philae. The Maynooth-built device survived for seven months at temperatures as low as minus-100 degrees Centigrade - a singular achievement for an Irish-designed and built space component.

A special session of Inspirefest will celebrate the reawakening of Philae, which could not have happened without the hardiness of its Irish-built communications package. Speakers will highlight the importance of such inspirational science projects for the future of Ireland and of Europe, and there will be an exclusive update on Philae's status from Mission Control, via video-link.

"This is a very big week for Irish space science and technology," said session chairman Leo Enright. "The Philae lander was the first spacecraft where success or failure hinged on an Irish component. The communications package was officially designated 'Mission Critical' by the European Space Agency, and it has passed the harshest test imaginable with flying colours".

Inspirefest aims to challenge the status quo in the STEM sectors by featuring a speaker line-up and attendance list dominated by high-achieving women. Speaking ahead of Inspirefest 2015, Ann O’ Dea, founder of the event and CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Silicon Republic said: “Where Inspirefest differs from other events, is that the leaders on stage will be at least 75 per cent female, in this way reversing traditional conference trends and ‘changing the ratio’ of female representation on speaker line-ups at such gatherings.”

In addition to the day-time events at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, an extensive fringe festival and outreach programme will bring together technology, design and the arts in Merrion Square Park, featuring music performances, film screenings, talks and panel discussions with GLEN, Women For Election, Women on Air and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.