When Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon on 21st July 1969, he unfurled a ‘Bernese Solar Sail’ and planted it into the ground – even before the American flag. It was part of the Solar Wind Composition experiment and scientists at the University of Bern in Switzerland used this sail to analyse solar particles which became embedded into its foil. This experiment marked the University of Bern’s place as one of the world’s leading universities in the field of space research, which continues to this day as its teams search for signs of life in deep space and send high precision cameras to Mars to observe space debris.
So, who better than to give a flavour of the heavens during the 50th Anniversary of the moon landings? The university’s space extravaganza last month was an opportunity for visitors to discover more about the history of space exploration and celebrate the rich history of space research and the first moon landing. During the event, a multimedia ‘rocket cube’ was installed on the Bundesplatz, and visitors could enter this custom-built space capsule for a micro-expedition into space.
Screenwriter and director Yuri Steinhart was responsible for the story that immerses visitors into their adventure and eight Canon XEED WUX500ST projectors were installed by AV partner, Spinner Konferenztechnik to bring his vision to life. The story begins with a tense and dramatic launch before taking in the silence of space. The would-be astronauts then orbit the earth and moon, learning about Bern’s many missions with NASA and ESA and the famous solar sail before ‘landing’ back in the Bundesplatz. The experience represents seven years of travel, but in reality, visitors are in the custom built ‘cube’ for only sixteen minutes, during which time they face some big philosophical questions – Where do we come from? Where is the origin of life?
Space junk bouncing against the capsule brings us abruptly back to reality
For the duration of the event, the Bundesplatz wastransformed into a Space Village, focusing on space research and scientific experiments. As well as the rocket cube, the university’s celebrations featured astronomical exhibits, rocket building, planetarium shows, and a symposium, featuring keynote speechesfromThomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, and Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the ESA. “That representatives of the leading space agencies are coming to Bern to celebrate with us exemplifies the excellent network and noteworthy results that the University of Bern has achieved over the last 50 years in the field of space research,” said Christian Leumann, rector of the University of Bern.
Find out more by downloading the special edition of the University Magazine, UniPress – “Bern im All”.(German only).