What do you get when 15 social media rockstars attend the first-ever European Space Agency (ESA) Social event in Western Australia? A whole lot of Awesome!Over 150 space geeks from around the world applied for #SocialSpaceWA. Myself and 14 of my brand new space mates arrived in Perth on a Wednesday. Our farthest far flung delegate hailed all the way from England and from this moment on, space hilarity pursued.
Our Social Media Wrangler, Daniel Scuka, throughly prepped us for our social engagement by supplying us with ridiculous quantiles of ESA Space Swag. YAY! (You definitely make friends with swag!) Then, our chariot that comfortably seated well over 45 drove us nearly two hours out of Perth to our new social home away from our virtual home, New Norcia Western Australia.New Norcia is not only home to the Benedictine Monks, but is also home to the ESA’s deep space dish along with the newly inaugurated deep space antenna. Whilst arriving in New Norcia, it was almost like arriving in a mythical land. The New Norcia Hotel had a resemblance to an Aussie Downton Abbey minus the meet and greet with the servants. Instead, we were welcomed by some of the ESA’S finest scientists in the world!Each table had our very own real-life scientist; our dinner was filled with space and science chat along with a lot of humour. Then, after a few presentations to kick us well and truly off, we headed outside for a personal stargazing extravaganza! The good people of the ICRAR had telescopes ready for viewing of the distant stars as well as Jupiter. OMG! I GOT TO SEE THE BANDS OF JUPITER!!!The next day, we arrived with the same amount of enthusiasm as the day before – This time we learned more about the amazing projects that the ESA is currently operating and how they work and we rigorously went “social media cray-cray” over it. Our small social media team got #SocialSpaceWA trending on Twitter in Perth!
Then, we headed to the Dish. At this point a little bit of John Williams orchestral music wouldn’t have gone astray. We were all squealing like school girls. A bunch of obligatory selfies were taken as per usual…
And then more officials from the ESA who closely resembled the ESA cricket team took us for a private tour inside the Deep Space listening Dish. They casually joked about not to touch any buttons – But they were kinda really serious…
It would have been kinda really bad if we did since it is an actual REAL FRIGGIN DEEP SPACE DISH.
The dish is so extremely clean on the inside. It didn’t look like a mad scientist worked there. It was closer to resembling an “operating room.” Apparently no work has been needed to be done on it. Then, we headed up top for a better view. OMG, I’M STANDING IN AND TOP OF A DEEP SPACE RADIO DISH! And what a view it was to be had.
Then…. the moment had come. I was about to channel my inner Dr. Eleanor Arroway. The dish operation room was located a few hundred meters from the actual dish. It looked exactly like the room in Contact. The only thing I could think was WOW. Some lucky socials were allowed to actually drive the dish!
We headed back to the dish for the offical kickoff to the inauguration with press in tow and then after those festivities, headed up to the NNO-2 for the blessing of antenna by the Benedictine Monks.
Luckily we were placed on the 15 seater naughty bus with the real officials on the 45+ as our poor little bus couldn’t make it up the hill with such amazing social media rockstars as our self. It stalled. We hoofed it up to a sight to be seen.
The dedication of the Deep Space antenna was close to phantasmagorical. It was dusk and the sun was slowly falling over the orange hills as the monks blessed NNO-2. Their tunic’s were gently caught by the wind. They were only missing their light sabres. It felt as if we truly made it to the Star Wars era. Though, I’m kinda siding that The New Norcia Monks wore it better than Ewan and Liam.
To end the two day festivities, there was a fantastic celebration provided by the ESA. There were many jokes made throughout the whole experience about how much cooler the ESA was than NASA since they could provide food and drink unlike NASA. Apparently it was an act of Congress that has barred NASA from feeding any social media delegates and the ESA had a great laugh about that.
Afterwards, we all said our goodbyes and departed back to Perth. It was an incredible surreal time that we had. It’s not every day you get to party with likeminded social media space gurus, epic mad scientists and monks that look like Jedi’s. I’m extremely honoured to attend the ESA’s first ever social media event in Australia. Thanks, ESA for such a wonderful experience. Here’s to many more!
You can learn more about the ESA’s social media program by checking out their blog: http://blogs.esa.int/socialspace/
A girl gone walkabout in the great big world!