The Second Annual Colin Pillinger Memorial Talk

Beagle 2 and bedbugs

This event was held on Wednesday 16 November 2016


The second annual public talk in memory of Professor Colin Pillinger CBE FRS brought together two of his colleagues, Mark Sims and Geraint (Taff) Morgan to speak about the latest findings and the legacy of the Beagle 2 mission to Mars that Colin led.

Professor Mark Sims, head of the Space Research Centre at Leicester University, was mission manager for Beagle 2. Since Beagle 2 was located on the surface of Mars over ten years after it was declared lost, Mark and his team have continued to interpret images of the landing site. He will tell us about the latest findings, the significance of the UK landing on Mars and will lead onto the legacy of Beagle 2.

Dr Taff Morgan, who leads the Applied Science and Technology Group at the Open University, described how Beagle 2 technical and scientific expertise gained working on Beagle 2 and other spacecraft is leading to exciting practical applications down here on Earth.

Professor Mark Sims

Mark Sims was born in Bristol and went to school in Keynsham before studying at Leicester where he now heads the Space Research Centre. He recalls his interest in space dates back to the time, when as a schoolboy, he queued to see the Apollo lunar samples which had been allocated to Bristol University on display in the Wills Building. His expertise in space instrumentation is reflected in his involvement with nine space missions. His project management skills were invaluable during the early stages of Beagle 2. He plays a leading role in decision making for government space strategy. His current research interests include using imaging techniques for human disease detection and development of clinical aids for patient well-being alongside innovative instrumentation for use in astrobiological and life detection applications in space and on Earth.

Dr Geraint (Taff) Morgan

Taff Morgan went to school in Aberystwyth and following chemistry degrees at Leicester joined Colin Pillinger’s group at the OU to develop instrumentation to measure trace quantities of global warming gases in the atmosphere. The methodology was put to good use in designing the instrument on Beagle 2 which was aiming to detect the chemical signatures of life, past or present. Over the last decade he has translated the technology of sniffing compounds on Mars (with Beagle 2) and a comet (with the Rosetta Philae lander) for a wide range of applications. These include novel diagnostic tests for TB, cancer and the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers, air monitoring for future Royal Navy submarines, commercial studies with flavours and fragrances and collaborating on developing pioneering technology to revolutionise satellite propulsion.