SwissnexDay’19 focuses on space technologies for a sustainable future

swissnexDay 2019, held at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL) on the subject of space technologies and sustainability, attracted a large turnout. Under the title ’Earth’s Guardian: Using Space Tech for a Sustainable Future’, the international event focused on how space applications (can) contribute to a more sustainable future on earth.

State Secretary Martina Hirayama and Marc Gruber, Vice President for Innovation at EPF Lausanne, kicked off swissnexDay 2019. The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) organises the swissnexDay event every year. This year’s event, on 11 December, drew around 300 participants from the fields of education, research and innovation.

The event brought Swiss and international experts together who deal with space technologies and sustainability. The aim was to show how such technologies can contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), but also to focus on the problem of space debris, which is increasing proportionally with the number of space applications.

Switzerland participates in programmes of the European Space Agency (ESA), which directly serve to achieve the UN’s sustainability goals. Switzerland is actively involved in cataloguing space debris and has a pioneering role in an ESA mission to remove such debris. It will assume the chairmanship of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UN’s COPUOS (Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space) for 2020, in which it advocates the sustainable use of outer space.

The panel discussion involving Minoo Rathnasabapathy (Space Enabled Research Group, MIT Media Lab), Moriba Jah (University of Texas at Austin), Muriel Richard (EPFL / ClearSpace) and Susmita Mohanty (Earth2Orbit) highlighted the potential and versatility of using space applications (including Earth observation from satellites, communication and navigation applications, and microgravity research) on Earth and their benefits for achieving the sustainability goals.

swissnexDay’19 was organised by SERI in partnership with the EPFL in Lausanne, and marks the end of the university’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2019.

swissnex is the Swiss foreign network for education, research and innovation with worldwide locations. The network supports its partners in international networking and their commitment to the global exchange of knowledge, ideas and talent. The five consular annexes and their branch offices are located in the world’s most innovative centres. Together with around 20 science counsellors assigned to Swiss embassies, they strengthen Switzerland’s worldwide reputation as an innovation hotspot.

The swissnex network is an initiative of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation and part of the Confederation’s foreign network under the leadership of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The activities of the swissnex network are based on a cooperative approach, and on public - private partnerships and financing.

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