Leicester student is one of only eight in the world to win astronomy competition

A student from Space Research Centre is one of only eight people in the world – and the only one in the UK – to win a place to visit one the world’s most advanced telescopes, travel to the most arid desert in the world – and sleep where James Bond did!

Second year postgraduate research student Jane MacArthur has won an international social media competition to #MeetESO at the European Southern Observatories (ESO) in the Atacama Desert, Chile. Jane’s prize is 5 days from Santiago to visit the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the largest ground-based astronomical project in existence.

She will witness the transit of Mercury, a phenomenon that happens every few years, and will meet the astronomers working at ESO and ALMA, see where they work and how they live in the most arid desert in the world or high up on the Chajnantor Plateau, at 5000 metres above sea level.

As part of the trip, winners will stay in the Paranal Residencia, which was used as a filming location in the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace”.

Jane has put together a substantial blog post, explaining the #MeetESO competition and embedding highlights from Twitter and Facebook. This can be found here.

Further information and Mercury Transit events can be found here.

At Leicester, Jane is studying martian meteorites and Stardust comet samples with Professor John Bridges and Dr. Steve Baker, both from the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Professor Michael Branney from the Department of Geology. The meteorite is made up of martian regolith and may tell us more about the possible role of water on the surface of Mars.