The programme for #SpaceOptics, 7-8 October, to be held in Tenerife, Spain, is now shaping up and this promises to be one of the best SocialSpace gatherings yet!

This two-day event will include in-depth briefings from top ESA experts on Space Situational Awareness, the search for near-Earth objects, Europe’s new asteroid-hunting automated telescopes, space debris mitigation and remediation, high-speed laser communications and future planetary mission instrument technology.

The event also includes hands-on observing at ESA’s Optical Ground Station at the Teide Observatory – and that’s where the bit about a volcano comes in! Don’t worry; we won’t ask you to hike up the volcano – we’ll have a bus for that… :-). But you will have a chance to do a bit of hiking across one when we visit (on Day 2), the Mt. Teide Observatory, which belongs to the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and which sits 2400 m above the sea at one of Europe’s best locations for astronomical work!

I’ll provide more details on Day 2 below (and the trip does involve some warnings/advisories) but first let’s look at how Day 1 of #SpaceOptics is shaping up.

Sheraton La Caleta, venue for ICSO 2014 & SocialSpace #SpaceOptics

On Day 1, 7 October, we’ll meet at the Sheraton La Caleta Hotel, located in Costa Adeje, Tenerife, and spend the day in a series of presentations covering the technology and science behind some of ESA’s most fascinating activities, programmes and missions (and everything will be presented in non-technical terms for non-specialists like us!).

These will include:

  • The Space Situational Awareness programme (tracking debris, searching for asteroids and monitoring space weather)
  • Space debris – past, present and future
  • The Gaia (current) and Euclid (future) astronomy/survey missions
  • Future telescope technology for hunting Earth-threatening asteroids
  • Space astronomy

Our (optional, own-cost) dinner will take place at a local restaurant (we’re hoping for Spanish food!) and we’ve invited one of the world’s experts in quantum communications to join us.

On Day 2, we’ll start off by attending two of the morning plenary sessions of ICSO 2014 – the world’s largest meeting of experts working in optical sciences and technologies in space – which is taking place in the hotel the same week:

  • Optical instruments in ESA’S EO missions
  • Optical technologies in future NASA space science missions

Then, we’ll continue with our custom programme including a series of informal talks on how ESA and NASA are cooperating to develop laser communication technology (for  future high-speed data in deep space), how optical telescopes are used in space, and a report on the next-gen laser docking technology tested on ATV-5 in August.

Next, we’ll hop on a bus and head to the island’s stunningly beautiful Teide Observatory, home to ESA’s own Optical Ground Station – where some of the very technology we’ve been discussing has been tested.

At the observatory, we’ll get a hands-on tour of the telescopes and the technology led by a team of experts from the IAC (thanks to Alfred Rosenberg, Jyri Kuusela and Ángel Alonso), and have a chance to do some day-time (solar) observing.

After a pause for a light dinner, and once the Sun goes down, we’ll have opportunities to do some night-time observing and spot some very interesting objects up above (Saturn, Mars and the Moon). We also hope to have Nayra Rodriguez to talk about the University of Mons, which operates the Mons 50cm reflecting telescope.

Aand – if all goes as currently planned – participants will be able to get some unique, FIRST-TIME EVER* photos of something far above our heads, high up in space, moving very fast and… is coloured green…! 🙂

As a side highlight, we’ll be joined by Daniel López, from the IAC and an accomplished National Geographic photographer, who will discuss secrets and share tips on photography.

Advisory for visits to Teide Observatory

Now here’s where the going gets tough, and the tough (space fans like us!) get going! Keep in mind the following:

  • The Teide Observatory is situated along an altitude of approximately 2400 metres above sea level, an altitude at which oxygen decreases.
  • Moving around the centre (between several of the telescope buildings, the ESA OGS and the main astronomer’s residence) involves walking on gravel pathways. If you have mobility impairment, or heart disease, respiratory problems, etc., this visit may not be for you (if so, contact us below and we can provide further details).
  • If you are in any doubt about the advisability of a visit at this altitude, you should first consult with your doctor.
  • Bring good shoes, warm clothing (fleece layers best; it can go below 0C in early October), hat for Sun protection, wind jacket, gloves, water bottle, lip protector, etc.

For the vast majority of people, given that you’re dressed properly, the vist should be no problem and thoroughly enjoyable!

If you’re one of the 30 social media followers who received an invitation (and almost 100 applied!), here’s what we think you’ll get out of it:

  • It’s a unique opportunity to listen to and interact with top ESA and international experts in a variety of space science and technology areas
  • It will be a fabulous chance (as all SocialSpace events are!) for networking with some very nice folks in a super ‘space-friendly’ atmosphere (We love space, and we’ll talk about it! – Ed.)
  • A chance to do some live, hands on observing from one of Europe’s best locations  – a first for an ESA SocialSpace event
  • What can we say? It takes place in Tenerife! 🙂

If you’ve received an invitation, or are on the wait list, and you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us via Twitter or Gmail.

All initial invitees should reply via email within 12:00CEST, 26 September, to confirm their participation (ONLY wait-list invitees have until 29 Sep at 12:00 CEST).

See you in Tenerife!

Note*: As far as we can determine…