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21 October - 17 November
FoSS and ESRC logos

SPACE-Gov: Senses - Towards a Multi-sensorial Inclusive Space Future

Colourful starscape image with text SPACE-Gov: Senses

Professional audiences

What’s on offer?

An anchoring presentation will commence with a presentation of findings from the SPACE-Gov project at Exeter, which identified the hostile conditions and risks that space activities often needed to overcome in achieving remarkable milestones. This will be followed by a discussion around the prospective integration and mainstreaming of different human senses into future space science and activities. We will explore how a stronger emphasis on scent and taste could help strengthen future ESA astronauts' wellbeing while in orbit and how the analysis of sonic space data to illustrate how a multi-sensorial approach could lead us to more groundbreaking scientific discoveries.
Ultimately, SPACE-Gov: Senses seeks to inspire and enthuse a more inclusive space and technology sector, not only to enhance diversity in the workforce, but also to make critical contributions to strengthening safety and security for future scientific endeavours.  

What’s it about?

The world is thrilled to learn of the European Space Agency's (ESA) announcement of John McFall's election as the world's first-ever parastronaut. Recently having commenced his training at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany, John is to contribute to a feasibility study programme at ESA that aims to explore the potential of sending individuals with diverse abilities to go to space in the future. This pioneering initiative has the prospect of making space more inclusive, ensuring that space continues to be a domain of collective aspiration and inspiration. Building on findings from the SPACE-Gov project and COST research network -- TRACTS, this event seeks to bring the public on an exploratory journey of what a multi-sensorial and inclusive space future may look like. 
Current space science and exploration rely heavily on a mono-sensorial approach (i.e. visual, with limited sonic supportive elements). However, evidence suggests that astronauts experienced reduced mobility and sensory input in micro-gravity. Astronauts have also reported experiencing temporary blindness while conducting spacewalk. In these critical moments, they have  to turn to their other senses (e.g. tactile, sonic) to ensure the return to safety. 
While the announcement of the world's first parastronaut demonstrates our path towards a more inclusive space future, we believe that inclusivity goes beyond accommodation and accessibility, and that the integration of a multi-sensorial approach could be crucial in strengthening astronauts' physical and mental wellbeing while in orbit. The SPACE-Gov project identified that the integration of additional sensorial input (e.g. tactile and sonic alarm) could help enhance safety and security for astronauts in extreme environments in orbit. 

Who’s leading the event?

Dr Nikita Chiu - Senior Lecturer in Innovation Policy at the University of Exeter and Principal Investigator of the SPACE-Gov project supported by Research England Policy Support Fund

Open to

Adult general public and professionals and policy-stakeholders in the space and technology sector

Of particular interest to

This event is designed to engage an adult general public and professionals and policy-stakeholders in the space and technology sector (e.g. professionals from the science park, local entrepreneurs, local culinary businesses). The objective is to raise awareness of the potentially significant contributions that a diverse workforce could play in mitigating risk and enhancing safety in a professional environment. It also hopes to engage the wider professional community to adopt an inclusive and/or multi-sensorial approach in advancing science and technology. 

Event Booking details

Interested parties may register by emailing

Seats are limited and are on a first-register-first-serve basis.

Scheduling information

16:30 - Guests arrival

17:00 - Introduction and Presentation by Dr Nikita SW Chiu, University of Exeter/ Ad Astra Distinguished Fellow in Robotic and Outer Space Governance, USC

17:40 - Presentation by Dr Wanda Diaz-Merced, Astroparticle and Cosmology (APC) laboratory, Paris

18:10 - Q&A and Panel Discussions

19:00 - Guests departure