The Queen talking with Prof Caroline Smith about the Mars 2020 mission ©Buckingham Palace

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The Queen talks to Museum scientists about space, Mars and the meteorite that landed in a driveway

To mark British Science Week, Her Majesty took part in a virtual science showcase to celebrate the role played in UK society by science, technology, engineering and maths.

This included talking to Museum scientist Prof Caroline Smith about the latest rover to land on Mars, the science it will complete and, of course, the incredible new meteorite that came to a stop in the driveway of a house in Gloucestershire

The Queen was talking to a range of scientists, educators and schoolchildren to celebrate British Science week, in a discussion hosted by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

The focus was on space exploration, the far-reaching impacts of space research and how to encourage the next generation of young people to become excited and take up future careers in science and technology.

Prof Caroline Smith is the Head of Collections for Earth Science and Principal Curator of Meteorites at the Museum. She is also part of the science team for the NASA Mars Perseverance mission, which landed on the red planet earlier this year and will search for signs of previous life.

'The Queen has a genuine interest in science and technology, as does The Duke of Edinburgh,' says Caroline. ‘The British Science Week event demonstrated how science and technology is interesting and important to everyday lives, and how to get young people involved because they are the future of these important skills and we need them.'


The Winchcombe meteorite which fell in Gloucestershire last week ©The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Space science at the Museum

Caroline took the time to talk to the Her Majesty about the recent news of the Winchcombe meteorite, which crash landed in a driveway in Gloucestershire last weekend, and is currently being kept at the Museum where it is being looked after and studied.  

'The meteorite is absolutely a heaven set gift,' says Caroline. 'What I love about it is that it is the type of meteorite that we have been researching for ages, it is one of our areas of strength.'

On hearing more about the meteorite discovery, Her Majesty said: 

'I’m glad it didn't hit anyone!'

The Queen also heard about the Museum's role in the Mars 2020 mission, which landed the rover Perseverance on the red planet earlier this year. Onboard the rover is a piece of Martian meteorite taken from the Museum's collection which will be used to calibrate one of the rover's instruments

'I spoke to The Queen about the rover and the piece of meteorite that we gave to NASA to go back to Mars,' explains Caroline. 'The rover is just going through the testing phase and is about to start doing the scientific investigations and the scientific expedition.

'We've landed in a wonderful place on Mars and it is extremely exciting. Now the hard work starts.'

After being shown images taken by the rover on the surface of Mars, The Queen said: 'It's fascinating to see the pictures of Mars – it's unbelievable really to think one can actually see its surface!'