Charles S. Cockell

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Charles Seaton Cockell FRSE (born 21 May 1967) is a British astrobiologist who is the current professor of astrobiology in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the UK Centre for Astrobiology.[1] [2]. He was previously the Professor of Geomicrobiology with the Open University and a microbiologist with the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK. His scientific interests have focused on astrobiology, geomicrobiology and life in extreme environments. He has published over 300 scientific papers and books in these areas [3]. He has contributed to plans for the human exploration of Mars.[4][5] For example, he led the design study Project Boreas, which planned and designed a research station for the Martian polar ice caps.[6][7][8][9] He was the first Chair of the Astrobiology Society of Britain.

Education and professional experience[edit | hide | hide all]

Cockell received his first degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Bristol in 1989 and his D.Phil in Molecular Biophysics, University of Oxford in 1994. He was a National Academy of Sciences Associate at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field from 1995 to 1998 and then a visiting scholar at Stanford University.

Earth and Space Foundation[edit | hide]

Cockell is Chair of the Earth and Space Foundation,[10] a registered British charity (1043871)[11] which awards grants to expeditions that successfully bridge the gap between environmentalism and the exploration and settlement of space by either using space technologies and ideas in environmental fieldwork or use environments on Earth to advance knowledge of other planets.[12][13][14] He founded the organisation in 1994. Since its establishment the Foundation has supported over 60 field projects around the world. Cockell proposed the inseparable links between environmentalism and space exploration in a book Space on Earth (Macmillan, 2006).[15][16] The book was winner of the best written presentation in the Sir Arthur Clarke Award 2007.

Association of Mars Explorers[edit | hide]

Cockell was the first President of the Association of Mars Explorers,[17] a informal society he co-founded in California in 2002. The association, known as the Mars Club, is a society for aspiring explorers of Mars with a focus on the human exploration of Mars' mountains, poles, deserts, and canyon systems. Amongst the co-founders were Nobel laureate Baruch Blumberg, Christopher McKay and Imre Friedmann.

Expeditions[edit | hide]

In 1993 Cockell piloted a modified microlight aircraft over the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia designed for catching moths over the canopy.[18] The Barnes Wallis Moth Machine had lights for nighttime flying, UV lights to attract moths and a net for scooping moths from the rainforest canopy.[19][20][21] The moth machine was flown during an expedition to the Kerinci-Seblat National Park which also collected plants and insects as part of a biodiversity study. The expedition had the patronage of RAF's No. 617 Squadron. During the expedition the moth machine clipped the top of a tree and crashed.[22] Over 5,000 moths were caught which were sent to Germany for biodiversity assessments. In 1997 he was elected an International Fellow of The Explorers Club. Cockell has led or taken part in scientific expeditions around the world, including the Arctic and Antarctic, the Atacama Desert, the Namib Desert, Iceland and elsewhere.

Brief political career[edit | hide]

In 1992 Cockell stood as a parliamentary candidate in Huntingdon for the "Forward to Mars Party" against incumbent Prime Minister John Major. [23] The party advocated the increased involvement of Britain in the exploration of Mars, the European Space Agency's human exploration programme and the construction of a station on Mars. The party received 91 votes in the election.[24]

Honours and awards[edit | hide]

In 2015 Cockell was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh[25].

Selected bibliography[edit | hide]

  • Astrobiology: Understanding Life in the Universe. Second Edition (2019) Wiley Blackwell ISBN 978-1118913338
  • The Equations of Life: How Physics Shapes Evolution (2018) Basic Books/Atlantic Books ISBN 978-1541617599
  • Life Beyond: From Prison to Mars (2018) British Interplanetary Society ISBN 978-1983289088
  • Astrobiology: Understanding Life in the Universe. First Edition (2016) Wiley Blackwell ISBN 978-1118913338
  • Dissent, Revolution and Liberty Beyond Earth (2016) (Editor) Springer ISBN 978-3319293493
  • Human Governance Beyond Earth: Implications for Freedom (2015) (Editor) Springer ISBN 978-3319180632
  • The Meaning of Liberty Beyond Earth (2015) (Editor) Springer ISBN 978-3319095660
  • Extraterrestrial Liberty: An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of Tyrannical Government Beyond the Earth (2013) Shoving Leopard ISBN 978-1905565221
  • Introduction to the Earth-Life System (2008) (with Corfield R, Edwards N, Harris N) Cambridge University Press ISBN 978-0521729536
  • Biological Effects Associated with Impact Events (2006) (with Koeberl C and Gilmour I) Springer ISBN 978-3540257356
  • Project Boreas: A Station for the Martian Geographic North Pole (2006) British Interplanetary Society ISBN 978-0950659794
  • Martian Expedition Planning (2003) (Editor) American Astronautical Association ISBN 978-0877035077
  • Ecosystems, Evolution and Ultraviolet Radiation (2003) (with Blaustein AR) Springer ISBN 978-1441931818
  • Space on Earth: Saving Our World by Seeking Others (2006) MacMillan ISBN 978-0230007529
  • Impossible Extinction: Natural Catastrophes and the Supremacy of the Microbial World (2003) Cambridge University Press ISBN 978-0521817363

References[edit | hide]

  4. Oliver Morton. 2002. Mapping Mars. Harper Collins
  5. Robert Zubrin. 2003. Mars on Earth: The adventures of space pioneers in the high arctic. Penguin
  8. Baxter, S. 2008. Project Boreas: A Base at the Martian North Pole. Analog Science Fiction and Fact, March 2008
  10. Earth and Space Foundation Home Page
  12. Charles Cockell, Don White, Douglas Messier, Dale Stokes. 2002. Fostering links between environmental and space exploration: The Earth and Space Foundation. Space Policy 18, 301-306
  13. Oliver Morton. 2002. Mapping Mars. Harper Collins
  14. Robert Zubrin. 2003. Mars on Earth. The adventures of space pioneers in the high arctic. Penguin
  15. Chung SY et al. 2010. Synergies of Earth science and space exploration. Advances in Space Research 45, 155-168
  17. Association of Mars Explorers
  18. George McGavin. Expedition Field Techniques: Insects and Other Terrestrial Arthropods. Royal Geographical Society, 2007
  19. Nick Nutall: Those men in their moth machines, The Times, 13 March 1993, TM62
  20. Roger Highfield: This is the world's first and finest flying moth-collecting machine. Daily Telegraph, 1 April 1993, 5
  21. Expeditions to Indonesia Handbook: Expedition Sumatra 1993 (The Barnes Wallis Moth Machine). ISBN 0951702114
  22. Bernard Levin. 'Of Moths and Flames' The Times, Editorial, 23 November 1993, p. 18
  25. "Professor Charles Seaton Cockell FRSE - The Royal Society of Edinburgh". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 2018-02-12. 

External links[edit | hide]

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