When a space agency breaks out the Red Bull for a rocket launch, you know it’s gonna be one heck of an exciting time. A few weeks back, ESA posted a call out for social media enthusiasts from around the world to attend the #Sentinel2GO rocket launch. I got on that quick smart and was lucky enough to be chosen to cover this event.
This launch was for the Sentinel-2, an earth observation mission that will be studying forests, land cover changes and will aid in natural disaster management. Also, all the data gathered will be free to use by the public. That means if you’re a really cool researcher studying the former migration patterns of say… Neanderthals, you can use the Sentinel-2 data to figure it out.
My super scientific Sentinel adventure started around 2pm. Myself and 99 of my new social media besties made it though security. We were, then, split into four groups and taken on the most magical mystery epic tour of the ESA campus. I even got to see the coolest and most expensive scientific drum set in the entire universe!
Whilst on the tour we had unprecedented access to some seriously cool scientists and areas of ESA not open to the public. This allowed us to see scientists in their natural habitat and where I discovered my new favourite scientific obsession: space debris.
Space debris is the stuff currently free floating in orbit around the Earth – like, actual rocket bodies, old satellites or the stuff that falls off the rockets called FOD. These guys need to monitor this space junk because they can’t have it crashing into the International Space station or say a rocket launching into orbit. That would kinda create a big headache. I few of us were so taken by space debris that we kept the convo going coming up with wacky solutions and funny company names that were met equally with laughs and discouragement.
After all that space coolness and a pretty good German feed, we were back at ESA again for the #Sentinel2Go Event! This was about to be an incredibly BIG night. The only way I can describe it is like a “Science Rave.” The Red Bull was free-flowing and for good reason! All up, I was actually awake for a whopping 27+ hours straight – hence the copious cans of Red Bull. And.. I mean, I only flew in from Sydney the day before. I was also the person from the most far flung region of the world. That seemed to the capture the imagination of the press. Why the heck would a girl travel all the way from the other side of the world for a launch? Well, for a rocket launch of course!
I was hearing multiple languages I couldn’t understand and, for the first time in my life, I was translated three times into German. Now, that’s some serious #LifeGoals. But in the end, that didn’t really matter. My new space mates and I spoke a common language – science.
I really need to say this: This was quite possibly the most badass rocket launch party I’ve ever been to. Two hosts, worked the room like Muhammad Ali – think antiques roadshow mixed with a SpaceX webcast plus the magic of Eurovision and that’s EXACTLY what we experienced. The #Sentinel2Go launch presentation had cool stuff happening in every corner of the room. This event was totally off the “cool science” charts. Bright lights lit every corner. There were live cameras, interviews happening on every stage and people galore – just mingling. It was overwhelming and well orchestrated at the same time. Personally, I just wanted to be everywhere… I went “rogue” a few times to capture some of the moments on my phone – they even had an Earth Cake. Seriously. An EARTH CAKE. It was my first taste of the Earth’s mantle and it was incredible.
This guy was seriously cool too – he basically drew the entire rocket launch and described though the use of art why Sentinel-2 is so important. That’s just awesome if you ask me. Love it when science meets creativity!
We ended at 7am with a glass of bubbly for a launch well done! There’s nothing like experiencing your very own rocket launch in the flesh, but this was seriously cool. It was a completely different experience but extremely rewarding; the ESA should be very proud – I was.
If you’re interested in attending your own launch or learning more about the European Space Agency’s #SocialSpace or NASA’s #NASASocial events- please reach out to me, or you can search online to find out more!
A girl gone walkabout in the great big world!