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Wales set for new space mission

25 June 2010

Wales' first ambassador for space is set to embark on a new mission to encourage schoolchildren to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Dr Paul Roche, an astronomer from Cardiff University and the University of Glamorgan, has been appointed Wales first-ever Space Ambassador as part of a major UK programme funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the UK Department for Education.

As Space Ambassador, Dr Roche will help raise the profile of ESA and the UK space industry across Wales, build a network to enable schools to make better use of space and astronomy in the classroom, and help inspire a new generation of scientists to pursue careers in the space industry.

Dr Roche said: "Space provides us with amazing opportunities to test our science and engineering skills to the limit, and Wales has played a significant role in the UK and ESA’s exploration of the Universe.

"This role means, for the first time, we are able to get to all parts of Wales to inspire the next generation of space enthusiasts."

The UK space industry is estimated to be worth around £6.5 billion a year, and supports over 68,000 jobs in many high tech areas. The UK Space Agency was launched in March of this year, and Britain has a future astronaut in Major Tim Peake, who was selected by ESA in May 2009.

The Herschel and Planck satellites, launched in May 2009, are currently two of the flagship space missions for ESA. Both satellites involve substantial contributions from scientists at Cardiff University. The Space Ambassador role will help highlight these missions by working with teachers and students, giving talks in schools, training teachers and providing information on careers in the space industry.

Dr Roche added: "Space can inspire and excite students of all ages, and my job will be to try and demonstrate how vital this sort of high-tech science is."

Dr Roche has spent the past 15 years running a variety of space-based education programmes across the UK and overseas, and is currently the UK National Schools’ Astronomer. He works jointly at the School of Physics and Astronomy in Cardiff and at the University of Glamorgan, where he is establishing Europe’s first Astronomy Education group.

Welsh schools looking to take part in the programme can contact Dr Roche by e-mailing:



** Filming/Photo opportunity **

Dr Paul Roche is leading a two day space themed event for South Wales schoolchildren aged 13-14 at Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, Queens Buildings The Parade, Cardiff, CF24 3AA on Thursday 1st July between 9.30- 3.30 and Friday 2nd July between 9.30 and 12:30.

The event is part of the First Campus schools programme - a partnership between higher education institutions, further education colleges and schools in South East Wales. Further information is available at:

To discuss or arrange filming/photo opportunities at the event(s), please contact:

Dr Paul Roche
Cardiff University
School of Physics and Astronomy
Mobile: 0797 9096750


Chris Jones Tom Griffin
Public Relations Officer Press & PR Officer
Cardiff University University of Glamorgan
Tel: 029 20 874731 Tel: 01443 654419
E-mail: Email:

2. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Visit the University website at

3. Universityof Glamorgan

The University of Glamorgan is the second largest University in Wales with over 22,000 students studying a comprehensive range of programmes from the Creative Industries in its new state-of the-art Cardiff campus through to Aeronautical Engineering. The University is currently investing over £130m in facilities across its campuses.

The University's research in areas such as hydrogen is world leading and carried out at a purpose built centre at Baglan, South Wales. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise more than 70% of the University's research activity was assessed as being of a quality recognised internationally.

The University was established in 1992, but has an academic pedigree spanning almost 100 years. It has expanded in recent years and is now part of the Glamorgan Group which includes the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama - the National Conservatoire of Wales - and Merthyr Tydfil College.

Visit the University website at