22 May 2020 Community news

Successful launch for Scottish space-based podcast

Shining a light on Edinburgh’s space data ambitions

Edinburgh: Space Data Capital presenters Murray Collins and Kim McAllister
Edinburgh: Space Data Capital presenters Murray Collins and Kim McAllister

A new Scottish space podcast has proved so popular it has been picked up by the BBC.

Edinburgh: Space Data Capital showcases the flourishing Scottish space economy and features interviews with a range of experts.

Astrobiologist Charles Cockell discussed his research into life on Mars and when he compared the current lockdown conditions to a Martian experience, the BBC took note.

Presenter Murray Collins said: “The producer loved Charles’ story and used most of the interview on the Afternoon Show on Radio Scotland. It was a thrill to hear the presenter say that if listeners wanted more stories like that, they should listen to the podcast.”

It’s not just the BBC listening. Scottish national newspaper, The Herald, also found a lead in the episode with University of Edinburgh’s Ed Mitchard. When the expert in the remote sensing of forests announced on the show that he would be helping to train 50 new space scientists, the Herald business desk ran the story. The article proved a big hit in the space community - the LinkedIn post received over 7000 views and 123 reactions.

Dr Mitchard said: “I couldn’t believe the response - thanks to the podcast and the Herald, awareness of our new Centre for Doctoral Research has rocketed.”

The eight-part series broadcast its season finale this week, a one-hour special featuring three experts.

Steve Hancock is a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh but works with colleagues at the University of Maryland on NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) mission, which uses LIDAR to measure biomass of tropical forests. Vladimir Ivan works with Valkyrie, the only NASA-built humanoid robot outside the US, to simulate life on Mars in the Edinburgh Centre of Robotics. The final guest was David Alexander OBE, Professor of Astrophysics and Director of the Rice Space Institute.

Prof Alexander said: “I really enjoyed being on the programme because the conversational style is fun and the enthusiasm is contagious. I think the podcast is important because it helps make people aware of the benefits of space research and technology and that small countries like Scotland have a huge amount to contribute.”

The podcast is presented by Chancellor’s Fellow in Data Driven Innovation in Space and Satellite, Murray Collins, and journalist Kim McAllister. Guests have included Sarah Middlemiss discussing the end users of space data, Encarni Medina Lopez talking about marine mapping from space and Livia Jacob explaining the process of founding a space data company. Topics have ranged from earth observation to deep space, the space companies thriving in Scotland and the international connections.

“The response has been fantastic,” Dr Collins added. “We’ve had messages from all over the world. I think the format works really well, especially right now when everyone is stuck at home. We’ve had lots of offers of partnerships and collaborations. Edinburgh’s ambition to be the space data capital of Europe is eminently achievable. We’ve already started working on the next series and it’s going to be even more exciting than first!”

Find Edinburgh: Space Data Capital on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Anchor.

By Kim McAllister


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