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Space Week 2022 is almost here! Every year between 4 October – 10 October, thousands of participants from over 90 countries share their knowledge and excitement about all things space. This year space agencies, aerospace companies, schools, planetaria, museums, and astronomy clubs will be exploring the theme “Space and Sustainability”. This week on School Stream, we are looking at loads of resources, Australian and New Zealand’s contributions to global space knowledge, First Nations astronomical knowledge, and a whole lot more. It’ll be out of this world!

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World Space Week 2022

The dates of World Space Week (WSW) are the same each year and celebrate two important dates in space history. October 4, 1957 marks the launch of the first human-made Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, paving the way for all subsequent space exploration. Bookmarking the end of Space Week on 10 October is an acknowledgement of the 1967 signing of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.

Beyond The Dish: Australia in Space

Described as ‘the pride and joy of Australian astronomy” and “an icon of Australian science”, we all know about The Dish and its role in relaying the 1969 moon landing, thanks to the charming 2000 film. But it’s not the country’s only achievement when it comes to space exploration. For students wondering if a career in space is even possible this geographically far from NASA, allow us to share another incredible story. In the 1960s, a group of students at the University of Melbourne embarked on an impressive endeavour to build Australia’s first satellite. The students overcame adversity and obstacles to see their satellite – OSCAR 5 – launched by NASA in 1970. You can celebrate this moment in Australian space history and learn more by joining a free virtual (or in-person) event during Space Week and hear the two members of the original group tell the full story. See more of the official World Space Week events here.

Is New Zealand the new NASA?

It’s not just Australia getting in on the space game. NZ has plenty happening as well, with the sector thought to be worth an estimated $1.75 billion according to a Deloitte report commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. These figures are from 2018-2019, and the industry has been growing at pace since then, employing about 5,000 people and another 7,000 in support services. In June this year, Rocket Lab launched a satellite to the Moon from New Zealand, in addition to being tasked with designing two photon spacecraft for a 2024 scientific mission to Mars. And there’s plenty more going on besides this. You can see more about all the official World Space Week offerings for New Zealand here.

The First Astronomers: First Nations Astronomical Knowledge

“Indigenous astronomy” is the first astronomy – the astronomy that existed long before the Babylonians, Greeks, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. There are some rising stars among First Nations science communicators and astrophysicists, who are bringing a different and timeless perspective to what we understand about space, and how it can inform sustainable practice on the ground – all of which is very relevant for Space Week this year! With the Yolngu Space Centre being built in a partnership between NASA and the Yolngu people, there are great opportunities here for everyone. Here are some great resources for students and educators of all ages: 

For educators: 

What do you need to know to prosper for 65,000 years or more? This is the question asked by First Nations astrophysicists Krystal de Napoli and Karlie Noon in their bestselling book Astronomy: Sky Country:

Many First Peoples regard the land as a reflection of the sky and the sky a reflection of the land. Sophisticated astronomical expertise embedded within the Dreamtime and Songlines is interwoven into a deep understanding of changes on the land, such as weather patterns and seasonal shifts, that are integral to knowledge of time, food availability, and ceremony. 

For Primary Age Students:

Corey Tutt (who we profiled two years ago) is a household name these days, thanks to his tireless advocacy for First Nations science and his work in getting STEM resources to remote and very remote schools. His fantastic book “The First Scientists” is a great resource to share with primary age students when it comes to sharing how First Nations peoples have always looked to the stars.

For Secondary Age Students:

Kirsten Banks is a Wiradjuri woman with a passion for all things space and astrology. She is also a rising star in the field of science communications and shares Australian Indigenous Astronomy knowledge via TED Talks, on television, radio and in the news. You can find her TED X Youth Talk here and a whole lot more resources suitable for secondary-age students on her website.

Even More Resources

Space is a source of eternal fascination with curious minds of all ages and as a result, there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to resources. You’re sure to find something to inspire your students about the ‘galaxy far, far away’.

1. Explore more about World Space Week and the theme for 2022 at their website

2. Federation Square in Melbourne is hosting some fantastic virtual and in-person events.

3. Is it even a Space Week listicle without mentioning NASA? Find all the educator resources (K-12) and citizen science-based projects you could ever need here. They also run hundreds (!) of social media accounts across 14 channels that offer a 360-degree view of everything NASA has to offer: astronauts, Mars, space science, Earth, 3D printing… you get the idea!  You can find a comprehensive list of them all here.

4. The Sounds of Space – we tend to think of space as a predominantly visual medium, but a simple YouTube search brings up a mind-blowing number of sound recordings. If you’ve ever wondered what black holes sound like when they collide, this one’s for you.

5. New Zealand Space Talk – See how Kiwi ingenuity is being applied to a raft of space-related projects on this government department’s news feed, as well as a range of projects for aspiring astronauts and young STEM-enthusiasts across Aotearoa.

6. The Australian Space Discovery Centre runs loads of digital sessions for students, as well as in-person sessions and holiday programs for students who can travel to Adelaide.   

Have a great World Space Week everyone!

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