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Swan Hellenic reveals scientists joining SETI Institute sailings

Clockwise from top left: David Grinspoon, Bill Diamond, Dava Newman (photo: Andy Ryan,) Seth Shostak, Pablo Sobron, Simon Steel and Margaret Turnbull
Seven SETI scientists will join Swan Hellenic sailings this year, in a bid to share with passengers their expert insights into deep space - and the quest to find other life forms within and beyond our solar system.

Swan’s partnership with SETI, first announced in December, will see passengers learn about the latest discoveries in astronomy, astrophysics, astrobiology and planetary science. 

SETI scientists revealed

The scientists joining either SH Vega or SH Diana will be: Bill Diamond, president & CEO of the SETI Institute; Dr. David Grinspoon, senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and SETI Institute science advisory board member; Dr. Dava Newman, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, Apollo Program professor of Astronautics at MIT and Harvard–MIT health, sciences & technology faculty member, SETI Institute board of trustees member; Dr. Simon Steel, deputy director of the Carl Sagan Center for Research at the SETI Institute; Dr. Pablo Sobron, SETI Institute research scientist; Dr. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer and fellow at the SETI Institute; Dr. Margaret Turnbull, SETI Institute research scientist.


Grinspoon will join SH Vega’s ‘Unspoilt Wilds of Southwest Africa’ cruise taking place April 3 – 16 with lecture topics, ‘An astrobiology perspective on our place in planetary history,’ ‘Mission to Venus: The past, present and future exploration of Earth’s twin planet’ and ‘Searching for life and intelligence beyond Earth.’ Grinspoon is an astrobiologist, science communicator and author with several interplanetary spacecraft missions, including NASA’s DAVINCI mission to Venus.

PhD astronomer and astrophysicist Steel, who specialises in studying galaxies and has taught at Harvard University and University College London, will accompany passengers on the ‘Lands of the Celts’ cruise from May 23-June 3 on board SH Vega. His lecture topic will be ‘From Shí an Bhrú to JWST: Humanity’s quest for meaning and place in the cosmos.’

Diamond’s lecture topic when he joins the ship’s June 2-July 6 ‘Arctic Islands & Fjords’ voyage will be ‘The search for life beyond Earth – how it works, where it stands, and why it matters.’


Astrobiologist Turnbull accompanies the ship’s passengers on the ‘Historic Ports of the Western Seaboard’ cruise taking place August 8 – 17. Her expertise is in identifying planetary systems capable of supporting life as we know it. She leads two NASA-funded teams to study the nearest star systems and their prospects for hosting habitable planets, among other accomplishments, and her lecture topic will be 'Search for life for around nearby stars: Will there ever be another Earth?’

The August 26 - September 5 ‘Greenland in Depth’ programme operated by SH Vega will see Sobron deliver a lecture called, ‘Arctic resources and their role in space sciences and the energy transition.’ He has worked at the European Space Agency, the Spanish Space Agency and the Universities of Oslo and Valladolid before dedicating himself to developing new technologies at Washington University, McGill University, the Canadian Space Agency, the SETI Institute and NASA. He has a PhD in physics and technology materials.

With degrees in physics and astronomy from Princeton University and Caltech, Shostak is a guest and commentator on radio and television. He has a background in radio astronomy and searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, and will deliver a ‘Looking for aliens’ lecture on board SH Diana during its voyage to the Northwest Passage from September 5 - 21.

December 2023 - January 2024

Newman served as NASA deputy administrator from 2015-17 – the first female engineer in the role – and was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. She was also the principal investigator on four spaceflight missions aboard the Space Shuttle, Russian Mir Space Station and International Space Station.

She joins  SH Vega’s ‘Weddell Sea Discovery’ from December 23, 2023 – January 3, 2024 and her lecture topics will be ‘Humanity becoming interplanetary: Exploration via sea and space,’ ‘Antarctic extreme science and exploration’ and ‘Antarctica from air, sea, and space: Latest scientific results.’