Around 750 school students from 51 West Australian schools will visit The University of Western Australia on Tuesday to hear Australian-born astronaut Andy Thomas.
Dr Thomas is in Western Australia as part of a visit organised by philanthropic and education organisation, the Fogarty Foundation. He will speak with scholars and scientists, primary and secondary students and teachers and give one public lecture.
Four students from the Aspire UWA program (from Girrawheen, Lockridge, Hamilton and Swan View high schools) will attend the talk at UWA's Octagon Theatre on Tuesday, September 14. They will also attend an evening public lecture at Curtin University of Technology and may speak to astronauts on the International Space Station during a live hook-up.
Dr Thomas was born in Adelaide in 1951 and completed a doctorate in mechanical engineering at the University of South Australia in 1978. He was recruited by NASA in 1992.
Four years later he took his first flight in space on the space shuttle Endeavour. He trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia in preparation for a long-duration flight. In 1998, he served as Board Engineer 2 aboard the Russian Space Station Mir for 130 days.
From August 2001 to November 2003, Dr Thomas served as Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office. He completed his fourth space flight on STS-114 and has logged more than 177 days in space. He is currently working for the Exploration Branch of the Astronaut Office.
The Fogarty Foundation has coordinated the visit with The University of Western Australia, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), Curtin University, Scitech, Aspire UWA, the UWA/WA Department of Education teachers' enrichment program (SPICE) and the US Consul General.
Dr Thomas's visit will also raise awareness of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a $2.5 billion international global science project by a consortium of institutions from 20 countries. The SKA is a radio telescope that will help answer fundamental questions in physics and cosmology and provide scientists and the world with unparalleled insights into the formation and evolution of the universe. If the Australia-New Zealand bid to host the SKA is successful, the core of the project will be based in WA.
Associate Professor Jan Dook (SPICE Program Coordinator) (+61 8) 6488 2597
Pete Wheeler (ICRAR Outreach and Education Manager) (+61 8) 6488 7758
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716