US ambassador foresees Kiwi astronaut

United States ambassador Scott Brown (left) discusses an Antarctic core sediment sample with University of Otago Geology Department research scientist Dr Christian Ohneiser. Photo: Linda Robertson
United States ambassador Scott Brown (left) discusses an Antarctic core sediment sample with University of Otago Geology Department research scientist Dr Christian Ohneiser. Photo: Linda Robertson
Four new Nasa scholarships could result in a University of Otago student becoming New Zealand's first astronaut in space in the ''very near future'', United States ambassador Scott Brown says.

''You [New Zealand] have a new space agency, so how does that figure into a place like this [the university]?

''I believe space is the biggest area of opportunity in New Zealand right now.

''We just announced four scholarships with Nasa, for kids to go and intern at Nasa.

''I would argue that in the very near future, you could have an astronaut in space who's Kiwi.''

Mr Brown was in Dunedin yesterday to visit some of the city's high-tech businesses and see some of the research being conducted at the University of Otago.

The visit is part of his pledge to visit every part of New Zealand, to see what the country's businesses and research scientists were working on.

During his visit to the University of Otago, he met research scientists making discoveries about space, the Antarctic, and reconstructive facial surgery.

Mr Brown said he had been to the Antarctic and was particularly interested in what scientists were finding from Antarctic core sediment samples in the geology department.

''To understand what they're doing to determine the extent of climate change and what's man-made and what's natural and how it all comes together - it's always helpful to pick their brains.''

He also visited Animation Research Ltd, AbacusBio Ltd, and spoke at a business lunch before catching up with some of the university's 700 American students.

Part of his visit was determining if there was anything researchers needed and if the United States National Science Foundation could give them anything to help their research.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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