Space Day Takes Off at U of G

May 16, 2012 - News Release

NASA astronaut Mike Good and Bob McDonald, host of CBC Radio’s Quirks & Quarks, will speak at the launch of the first space-themed open house at the University of Guelph. “Bringing Space Down to Earth” will take place June 2.

The family-friendly event will showcase “out-of-this-world” research in various disciplines across campus, said organizer Leah Bent, a professor in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences.

Geography professor Aaron Berg will discuss space-based monitoring of climate change and impacts on water supply. Visitors can tour the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility for growing plants in space, run by Prof. Mike Dixon, School of Environmental Sciences. The day will also feature a talk and video demonstration about a device on a Mars rover that was developed by an international group of scientists led by physics professor Ralf Gellert.

“It’s exciting to be able to share this interactive science experience with the community,” said Bent. “The university’s Centre for Open Learning and Educational Support and PhD student Catherine Lowrey were pivotal in putting this special day together. Our hope is that others will become as fascinated with space as we’ve become and realize how findings from space research can be applied right here on Earth.”

By studying skin receptors in astronauts’ feet after space flight, Bent hopes to help improve balance in earthbound seniors. Her “hyper-sole” study is funded by the Canadian Space Agency.

The daylong event in Rozanski Hall will begin with a welcome by Prof. Michael Emes, dean of the College of Biological Science, and a keynote talk by McDonald.

An internationally renowned science communicator for more than 30 years, McDonald chairs Geospace, a new environmental centre and planetarium planned for the Toronto waterfront. He has received six honorary doctorates, including one from U of G, and was named to the Order of Canada in 2011.

He and Good will discuss the future of space research.

Good was a crew member during space shuttle missions to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009 and the International Space Station in 2010. He has spent 25 days in space and almost 30 hours on four space walks.

The U of G event will also feature graduate Kris Lehnhardt, who is studying to become an astronaut.

Let’s Talk Science, a national charitable organization for improving science literacy, will run hands-on science activities for youth at the event. Since 2008, a U of G chapter has run activities for local schools and youth groups.

For more information and to register, visit

Centre for Open Learning and Educational Support
519-824-4120, Ext. 55000

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or, or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, or

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1