Edinburgh born medic has turned her eyes to the stars as she trains to be an emergency space doctor
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She will be one of the guests at this year’s Big Bang festival of astronomy and science along with 16-year-old Scottish astrophotographer Helena Cochrane and US space professional Kellie Gerardi.
Dr Mackaill is working towards becoming one of the world’s tiny but growing band of space doctors and will specialise in emergency medicine.
Speaking ahead of her Big Bang appearance, called The Space Doctor Is In (on Friday, 5 March at 7.30pm), she said: “With Moon and Mars missions on the way and a burgeoning of space tourism coming soon we have to be able to deal with medical emergencies in space.
“There are no hospitals, no ambulances and will often be no doctors available.
"So one of the things we are looking at right now is how doctors need to respond if they are rushed into Mission Control and need to talk the crew of a spaceship through how to deal with something like a heart attack in microgravity.”
Dr Mackaill has had a significant impact in the field, having authored two papers on extra-terrestrial CPR and co-developing “a gravity-defying method of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for astronauts visiting the moon and one day Mars”.
She also founded Scotland’s first space medicine society in 2016 and is currently collaborating with NASA on a paper about emergency medicine in space.
She hopes to eventually go into space herself and with the European Space Agency having just opened applications for new trainees, she will be among the candidates.
Astrophotographer Helena Cochrane, who lives in Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway will also be at the Big Bang event.
She will be taking part in a discussion with Abigail Beall, author The Art of Urban Astronomy: A Guide to Stargazing Wherever You Are in an event called Reach for the Stars on Saturday, 6 March at 5pm.
Cochrane has set up a YouTube channel with thousands of followers which charted her progress from being an absolute beginner.
She explained: “I love astrophotography and have met so many brilliant people through it, such as some truly inspirational women in STEM.
"It was something I really wanted to share so other people could be intrigued by it, and discover a love for the night sky as well.
“Taking deep space pictures is a challenging task and I soon realised that there wasn’t a lot out there for beginners to learn from.
"So, I decided to set up a YouTube channel so people could follow what it was like for me as I started to learn.”
Big Bang will be staging an online exhibition of some of Cochrane’s photography.
These two women will be joined by Kellie Gerardi US space professional who hopes the new age of space travel will be open to all.
She said: “It’s something I’ve been laying the groundwork for throughout my whole career. So for me it’s travelling to space is not a matter of if but when.”