BIS West Midlands Talks with Don Pollacco

Date: 26 November 2022
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: The Gardeners Arms , 47 Vines Ln, Droitwich WR9 8LU and via Zoom
BIS Events | BIS West Midlands

Title: BIS West Midlands Talks

Date: Saturday 26th November 2022

Time: 13.45 – 16.30

Location: The Gardeners Arms , 47 Vines Ln, Droitwich WR9 8LU and via Zoom

Speaker:  Don Pollacco

Speaker Bio: Don Pollaco’s primary research interests are within the field of extrasolar planets. He was responsible for the SuperWASP project in La Palma, which along with its sister facility at SAAO, has become the most successful ground-based planet detection experiment, receiving the group achievement award from the Royal Astronomical Society in 2010. He is also a founder member of the Next Generation Transit Survey project: This concentrates the diversity between smaller planets, allowing for greater analysis and comparison between Neptune-like planets and Super-Earths.

Don joined the University of Warwick in 2012 and is Professor of Astronomy within the Department of Physics. He is the Principal Investigator of the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP), which remains the most successful ground based exoplanet discovery program. He is also the Science Coordinator for ESA’s PLATO mission which is due for launch in 2024 with the aim of detecting rocky planets around sun-like stars.

The Royal Society has recently awarded Prof Don Pollacco with a Wolfson Merit Award in recognition of his outstanding scientific achievements. The award will help support his research program on the discovery and characterisation of exoplanets (planets around other stars) for the next 5 years.

The Royal Society Wolfson Merit awards were established in 2000 in order to recognise the research programs of leading academics establishing their careers at UK Universities. The scheme is jointly supported by the Wolfson Foundation and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and is administered by the Royal Society.


Talk 1 – Exoplanets

Studying small planets around solar type stars is best done from space. There are two ESA missions with this goal. The first is the ESA S mission CHEOPS (launch 2017) is a Swiss led satellite designed to follow up known transiting planets (eg NGTS or TESS planets) and detect transiting planets amongst the RV detected systems. Further in the future we have ESA M mission PLATO (launch 2024) which is designed specifically to detect and characterise habitable zone rocky planets. I am the science coordinator for PLATO. Transiting planets are the only objects we can measure accurate radii for, and hence density. This is used to compare directly with theoretical models of planet composition. PLATO will be capable of detecting planets with moons and rings etc.

Talk 2 – Space Situation Awareness – Space Debris

Don’s other research interests include Space Situation Awareness and specifically Space debris. Originally this interest started as just a use for our observatory but over the last couple years I have become interested in specific problems such as the nature of debris field at geostationary orbit. This material has profound implications for our telecom satellites etc.

Meeting Timetable

  • 12.30  Committee will be in the Pub setting up the talk and chatting to early arrivals (maybe even grabbing a pie and pint!)
  • 13.45  Meet up with friends and colleagues
  • 13:55  The meeting is available to join online
  • 14:00 Welcome from West Midlands
  • 14:05  Don Pollacco – Exoplanets
  • 14.55  Questions and Answers (for Zoom attendees we enable microphones to allow an interactive Q&A session)
  • 15.10   Break – Beer etc
  • 15.30  Don Pollacco – Space Situation Awareness – Space Debris
  • 16.15  Questions and Answers (for Zoom attendees we enable microphones to allow an interactive Q&A session)

Joining Instructions

  1. Register for the Talk using the link below
    1. For those intending to attend in person please tick the appropriate box on the registration form – It helps the branch to plan if we know roughly how many people are attending in person!)
  3. Before the event, we will send you an email with the joining link for the meeting.
  4. On the day, click meeting link (and follow the on-screen instructions to install Zoom if prompted)


Please Note

The Talks and Q & A sessions will be recorded (which may capture your name, picture, voice or video) and made available via the West Midlands Facebook group and possibly via the BIS HQ website. You consent to this by registering for the Conference Call/Q & A sessions.