Ireland’s Space Program.
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You might have heard about the Herschel Telescope of late. If not possibly because you only consume Irish media basically it is the largest telescope ever to be put in orbit. Some recent images showing the cosmos in never before seen detail have been released. Scientists are raving about this because basically, it can tells us much of what we don’t know on the birth of stars. So why I am posting this on a political blog? Well people might not know this but Ireland has a space program.
This Herschel Telescope was launched by the European Space agency of which Ireland is a member.
There has been substantial contributions from Irish scientists with NUI Maynoth designing alot of the optics and an Irish man Leo Metcalfe is Science Operations Manager. So we have quiet a big input into this. So when the latest images were released they featured in how many Irish newspapers?
There were 10 founding members of the ESA in October 1980, Ireland joined in December 1980 to become the 11th member. We contribute 0.55% of the ESA budget or €13.3 million. And ever rocket that they fire into space has a little Irish flag on the side of it. (top left beside German)
Now I doubt many people in Ireland know this. I doubt many people know that Europe has an astronaut core and Irish people can apply to be astronauts(as of yet there is no Irish Astronauts) . Again something that not alot of people in Ireland probably know ?
We want to think of ourselves as a knowledge economy but how much coverage those the space program that we are part of get? Often the news and newspapers might cover a Space Shuttle launch but have you seen coverage of launches of space vehicles that we paid a bit of and basically has our name on it?
If we are serious about promoting science in this country why not cover a few of these launches. Cover the Irish scientists that work on these projects. Why not have Brian Cowen go down to French Guinea and watch a launch (more useful then horse racing junkets) . Highlight to Irish people that we in Ireland basically can and do do rocket science.
Rather then have continuous coverage of the arts and theatre how about a small bit just a small be of recognition of what science in Ireland really is. The arts gets weekly supplements in the newspapers, radio shows and TV shows. Why not just have even a small picture of what Ireland can do.
Surely that is as worthy of a front page as some street theatre group.
NUI Maynooth video