Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Swiss space research reaches for the sky

29.09.2016

The Rosetta mission is coming to an end, but the next expeditions across our solar system are ready for lift-off, carrying with them a number of state-of-the-art devices made in Switzerland.

After a decade of travel in outer space to reach the comet Chury, and two years spent studying it, the Rosetta mission comes to an end this Friday. The mission has been a showcase for the numerous Swiss SMEs that have participated in the construction of precision instruments and a highlight for the University of Bern. Scientists from its Physics Institute developed a key tool for the mission: Rosina, an extremely sensitive detector that can analyse the composition of the comet’s nucleus and atmosphere.


The Rosetta mission is coming to an end, but the next expeditions across our solar system are ready for lift-off, carrying with them a number of state-of-the-art devices made in Switzerland.

The Rosetta success story demonstrates the crucial role played by fundamental research: for more than two decades, 18 grants awarded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) with some 23 million Swiss francs have contributed directly or indirectly to the Rosetta mission.

But Rosetta is only one example of how research in Switzerland has contributed to space science. The SNSF is currently funding a number of remarkable projects, some of which will launch very soon.

Bern on the Moon, Windisch around the Sun

A key player in international space science, the University of Bern is developing an important chemical analysis tool for the Russian Luna-Resurs probe, due to land on the Moon soon after 2020, as well as for an orbiter of ESA (BepiColombo), which will explore Mercury in 2024 after a six-year journey. The Bern team also acts as co-principal investigator of the Juice mission, which will travel towards Jupiter for eight years to study Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, the three largest moons of the giant planet, starting 2030.

The University of Bern is also coordinating the construction of the Cheops satellite, which will be launched in early 2018 to study exoplanets. Once completed, Cheops will be the first Swiss satellite ever built for an ESA mission. Its construction is mainly financed by the ESA Prodex Programme through the Swiss government’s Space Office, while personnel and research costs are covered by the SNSF.

Studying the Sun is another key goal of space science. Solar flares, for instance, can cause geomagnetic storms that are liable to disturb telecommunications and the electricity grid on Earth. The University of Applied Sciences FHNW in Windisch (AG) is leading the Stix project with the support of Prodex. Their X-ray camera will be carried on board the ESA Solar Orbiter, to be launched in 2017. It will settle into a low orbit around the Sun after a three-year journey. The FHNW team is also building Misolfa, an imager on an Italian satellite, which will study solar flares during the next solar maximum due to start around 2020.

Waves, debris and GPS

A team at ETH Zurich has developed electronic systems for the Lisa Pathfinder mission. Currently travelling in sync with the Earth some 1.5 million kilometres away, the spacecraft is testing core technologies for the follow-up eLisa mission. The latter will observe gravitational waves, whose discovery in February 2016 made headlines across the world.

Scientists at the Astronomy Institute of the University of Bern are using the nearby Zimmerwald Observatory to accurately monitor satellites and in particular space debris, a constant threat to spacecrafts in orbit. They are also developing tools to determine with greater precision the location of the satellites offering global positioning services, such the GPS (operated by the US), Galileo (EU) and Glonass (Russia).

Importantly, space science is also developing tools to study our own planet: for instance, satellite imagery is used to study forests and crops, the effects of climate change, or geology. Scientists supported by the SNSF are developing techniques to make such remote sensing data more accurate.

National coordination

"Space missions bring back unique knowledge that gives us a deeper understanding of our place in the Universe, and often yields practical benefits for our lives on Earth,” says astronomer and SNSF research councillor Simon Lilly from ETH Zurich. “But they also have a unique ability to inspire people, because they are the manifestation of mankind's innermost need to explore, and to see places and landscapes never seen before."

Space missions sometimes span several decades and represent a major investment by the countries concerned. “Operating scientific instruments in space places extraordinary demands on materials and reliability and the necessary expertise must be built up over years,” says Lilly. “The projects funded by the SNSF have gone through a rigorous and highly competitive selection process.”

In the Swiss model to support space research, hardware and technical development are mostly funded by the Swiss Space Office (SERI/SSO) under the Prodex Programme, while scientific personnel and data analysis are funded by the SNSF. “It is crucial to coordinate the funding of space science and scientific infrastructures across Switzerland,” says Tristan Maillard, head of natural sciences at the SNSF Administrative Offices. “This is the only way to ensure the sustainability of these important activities.”


Contact:

Daniel Saraga
Head of Science Communication
Swiss National Science Foundation
Wildhainweg 3
CH-3001 Bern
Phone: +41 31 308 23 76
E-mail: daniel.saraga@snf.ch

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.snf.ch/SiteCollectionDocuments/Swiss_Space_Research_List.pdf 'More information on 15 Swiss space research projects'
http://spaceresearch.scnatweb.ch/ 'Swiss Committee on Space Research'
http://spaceresearch.scnatweb.ch/ 'SERI Space'
http://www.srv-ch.org/en/ 'Swiss Space Association'

Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.snf.ch

Further reports about: ESA Mercury Rosetta Rosetta mission SNF geomagnetic storm satellites solar flares space research

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond
23.11.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

nachricht Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy
22.11.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>