Nick Pope is a passionate supporter of the space programme and believes that it is essential to the advancement of human knowledge and the ultimate survival of the human race. He is a frequent media commentator on a range of space-related issues. Areas of interest/expertise and examples of media appearances include:
Radio Astronomy and SETI
Interviewed on BBC World Service TV about the use of radio astronomy in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programme. Debated the danger of alerting other civilisations to our existence by proactive broadcasts as opposed to passive listening, but argued that we have been a detectable civilisation for decades by virtue of our radio and TV broadcasts. Nick Pope fully supports SETI and believes it offers the best hope for verifiable scientific proof of the existence of extraterrestrials, perhaps in 2024 when the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope is fully operational.
Interviewed on Sky News about the first space shuttle launch following the tragic loss of the Columbia, discussing the importance of the mission to the future of the space programme. Speculated that another space shuttle loss might put the entire manned space programme in danger, given that many people believe the money could be better spent elsewhere. Argued that while space travel is difficult and dangerous, the risks are manageable and worth taking. More recently, Nick Pope has commentated in the media on the final space shuttle flights and what this means for the space programme more generally.
The Threat from Comets and Asteroids
An issue that was first raised with Nick Pope while he was at the Ministry of Defence. He characterises the threat from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) such as comets and asteroids as a classic "low probability/high consequence" event and believes more research should be undertaken in this field, both in terms of astronomical detection and threat mitigation should an NEO be detected on collision course with Earth. Nick Pope is an Associate Member of Spaceguard UK, an organisation that undertakes research into the threat posed by comets and asteroids and works hard to raise parliamentary, media and public awareness of the issue.
Interviewed on Channel 4 News about the discovery of an Earth-like planet orbiting the star Gliese 581, discussing the possibility that it might harbour life and speculating about related issues such as viable interstellar travel, UFO evidence, etc.
Nick Pope finds "we didn't go to the moon" conspiracy theories offensive to the bravery of the astronauts and the ingenuity of the designers and engineers in the space programme. He has debated this issue with conspiracy theorists and uses verifiable scientific facts to disprove their arguments.
Nick Pope addresses the
Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,
discussing astrobiology and the search for extraterrestrial life.
Other GCF 2011 attendees included Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Michio Kaku