Department for Health

The sky is not the limit for Bath graduate working at European Space Agency

Wed Sep 24 10:45:00 BST 2014

Dr Jon Scott with Dr Aki Salo at the European Space Agency (photo courtesy of Dr Aki Salo)

— Dr Jon Scott with Dr Aki Salo at the European Astronaut Centre.


University of Bath graduate, Dr Jon Scott, has landed his ‘ dream job’ in space medicine at the European Space Agency (ESA) in Germany.

Dr Scott, who graduated with a degree in Sport and Exercise Science in 2002, will be in his new role in time to help the UK’s first astronaut selected by the ESA, Major Tim Peake, prepare for orbit in late 2015.

Trowbridge-born and Melksham and Trowbridge-educated Dr Scott will lead a team helping to prepare ESA astronauts with the most up-to-date scientific information about the effects of spaceflight on health, as well as the latest technologies to help protect them from some of these effects.

His work will involve monitoring astronaut fitness and health during training and on the International Space Station (ISS), as well as developing post-mission rehabilitation programmes to return astronauts to their pre-mission physical condition. Looking ahead, it also involves supporting future activities, preparing for longer missions, first on board the ISS, then to destinations such as the moon and beyond.

European Space Agency

Space medicine is a branch of medicine that deals specifically with the effects of the space environment and can be divided into three parts: physiological changes to the body that occur with the absence of the effects of gravity; the effects of radiation, which increase dramatically outside the Earth’s natural protection; and the effects of living in a small, artificial environment, including the psychological issues which come from being confined with just a small group of people.

Advances in space medicine will be critical for future manned missions, included to Mars. Scientists are still working to better understand how potent all these effects will be for individuals who spend longer than 6 months in space.

Dr Scott explained: “My interest in space largely comes from my view that human spaceflight is one of mankind’s greatest technical achievements and a unique mix of physics, physiology and engineering, as well as being a great example of international collaboration.

“Through the grounding in sport and exercise sciences I obtained during my time at Bath and all my activities since leaving, I’ve developed enough knowledge and experience to be deemed the right candidate for this job at the ESA.

“With a decent-sized chunk of good luck, all my stars aligned at just the right time to get one of the very few jobs in space medicine in Europe. I’m delighted I’ll be in this role when the UK’s first astronaut under the ESA programme goes into space in 2015.”

As part of his degree at Bath, space enthusiast Dr Scott undertook a placement year at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, with half his time spent working for the Sport Medicine & Science Council of Saskatchewan and the Human Performance Centre.

After graduating he completed a PhD working for QinetiQ – a company a number of Bath Sport & Exercise Science students have taken placement years with – and worked on a range of projects to prepare people for and protect them from hostile environments, including the Sahara Desert and the South Pole.

Jon's personal course tutor during his time at Bath, Dr Aki Salo, added: "This is a huge achievement from Jon who really excelled during his studies with us at Bath. Through his hard work, determination and a number of good career choices upon graduating, we’re delighted that Jon has been able to land this dream job at the ESA.

“Overall, we have noticed that as our Sport and Exercise Science degree has matured – our first intake was in 1997 - our graduates are gaining more and more great employment opportunities. The degree we offer provides a very solid foundation for a number of exciting jobs in a number of different fields. Our graduates start to really shine when they combine the degree with their early career job choices."

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