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DIAS: 50 Years as space research pioneers

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies to highlight Irish connections to historic moon landing

The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) has launched a programme of events for July to mark the 50th anniversary of the first humans landing on the Moon as part of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission.

Over the coming month, DIAS will also highlight the Irish connection to the mission, including the fact that DIAS Professor Emeritus, Denis O’Sullivan, became one of the first people in the world to handle lunar material brought back to Earth by the Apollo 11 astronauts.

  • A visit and lecture by Teresa Lago, Secretary General of the International Astronomical Union and former Board member of the DIAS School of Cosmic Physics. Her lecture will explore Ireland’s long history of association with the International Astronomical Union, as well as the experience of small countries joining the European Southern Observatory and the important role of astronomy education. The event, which is fully subscribed, will take place on the 4th of July at DIAS on Burlington Road.
  • The installation of specially-designed window graphics detailing DIAS’s leading role in space research over the past 50 years. The designs cover 10 of the windows of the main DIAS building on Burlington Road.
  • Summer Night Stargazing at DIAS Dunsink Observatory. Taking place on 19th July from 9-11pm, as part of the Festival of Curiosity, this event will involve talks about DIAS’s role in the Apollo 11 missions; a guided tour of Grubb’s heritage South Telescope; and, weather permitting, live stargazing from the historic lawns at Dunsink.
  • On 20th July, Professor Peter Gallagher, Head of Astronomy and Astrophysics at DIAS, will join a panel of special guests at a special live RTÉ recording in Blackrock Castle Observatory to mark the anniversary.
  • On 25th July, as part of the opening ceremony of the International Cosmic Ray Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, the 2019 O’Ceallaigh medal will be presented to Professor Piergiorgio Picozza by Professor Luke Drury. The medal commemorates Professor Cormac O’Ceallaigh who initiated the work on solid state track detectors that led to the involvement of DIAS with the Apollo missions and subsequent space experiments

DIAS will hold various events related to space and astronomy to mark the Apollo anniversary in July. These include:

Commenting today (27.06.19), Professor Peter Gallagher said: “At DIAS, we have been pioneers in space research for many years now. DIAS Professor Emeritus Denis O’Sullivan was involved in studying moon rocks as part of the Apollo 11 mission, and was one of the first people in the world ever to handle the lunar material.

“DIAS has conducted extensive ground-based observations, as well as 18 experiments in space. Our work has included the study of the lunar rocks; experiments on the International Space Station and other satellites, including the first Irish experiment in space; and, currently, we are co-developing two satellites.”

Also commenting on the Apollo 11 anniversary, Luke Drury, Professor Emeritus at DIAS, said: “I have worked alongside Denis O’Sullivan at DIAS for many years, and it has always been fascinating to hear him speak of his connection to the Apollo missions. It is fantastic that we had a part in such historic events, and that DIAS continues to lead the way in space research in Ireland today.”