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Scientists using space technologies to save lives on Earth

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Scientists using space technologies to save lives on Earth

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Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Education and also in Environment, Health

Space researchers from the University of Leicester are applying cutting-edge space technology to real-life applications in order to save lives on Earth.

Canada’s first astronaut, Colonel Chris Hadfield, is encouraging us all to ‘think like an astronaut’ in his new memoirs, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, and two academics from the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre are doing just that with their innovative applications of space technology.

The researchers will be sharing their Earth applications of space technology with Colonel Hadfield who will be visiting the University of Leicester and the National Space Centre on Friday 13 December as part of an international book tour.

At Leicester, the researchers are:

-          Helping to target cancer tumours more safely with the development of a portable, handheld gamma camera

-          Monitoring the quality of air and reducing public exposure to pollution with an air quality monitoring instrument originally designed for satellite use

Dr John Lees, Reader at the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre, said: “A lot of technology from space can benefit the public. By developing a handheld gamma camera, we now have a portable imaging device which can be taken to hospitals and to patients. This will increase the number of patients with access to such an imaging device, helping to treat cancer at a much earlier stage.”

Dr Roland Leigh, Lecturer from the University of Leicester’s department of Physics and Astronomy explained: “The average member of the public loses seven to eight months of life expectancy due to pollution. Using space technology we have developed a satellite instrument which has created a panoramic image of pollution above cities. By providing a better understanding of levels of pollution and human exposure, we can help to inform policymakers on how best to manage the amount of exposure we have to pollution on a daily basis.” 

During his visit to the University, Chris will also meet a number of Physics and Astronomy students who will share their research with him through displays and demonstrations. He will then take part in a Q&A session at the National Space Centre with school and college students from around Leicestershire.

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