Europe in Space

By Liam McDonald, UK President

Brexit may be the fashionable topic amongst fellow Europeans but I would like to talk about something different. I’d like to talk about space. About the wonder that is our solar system, our galaxy, our universe. As a former Physics student turned Mathematician (I know you might not think they are different but trust me they are!) I have always had a fascination with the night’s sky. I most recently learnt about the power of Mathematics behind famous pieces of art like Da Vinci’s “last supper” but that’s for another article.

I would like to talk about European space exploration. There are 4 key sections to EU space policy: Copernicus, Galileo, space research and space exploration.

Let’s start with Copernicus, named after the famous Polish clergyman and astronomer Nicolas Copernicus (there is an amazing science centre in Warsaw named after him also). Copernicus’ model of model of the solar system moved the science away from the traditional geocentric beliefs of scientists and solidified his name in science history as the pioneer of heliocentrism.  The Copernicus project is an earth observation system which composed of a plethora of satellites and ground sensors. The project had fascinating implications for monitoring and observing changes in the Earth’s climate trends. Other applications include disaster response and tourism.

Galileo named after Galili Galieo it is the EU’s counterpart to the United State’s Global Positioning Satellite. I personally think a more fitting tribute would be to call it Galileo-Einstein because between the two of them they were able to explain transforms in rotating frames of reference and develop special relativity both of which are applicable to the Galileo project. Galileo’s main objective is to develop the most accurate form of global navigation system currently available. This system has the ability to support search and rescue missions and provide time stamping systems.

Space exploration pushes technology to its limits. No-one can predict what doors it will open in the future. Science is constantly being pushed to adapt and respond to the harsh conditions of our universe.

Space research and the space industry is a competitive market. Our best discoveries are borne from research and Europe must continue to lead in this field if it is to “maintain and safeguard access to its operations”.

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