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Partner News: The Space and Satellites Team Launches the Sustainable Space Challenges Campaign

The University of Edinburgh continues to be a strong space and satellites player in the space sector, leading some exciting activity. One ongoing example which needs your support is the Sustainable Space Challenges campaign, which started in early 2021.

The Scottish Space Leadership Council initiated the campaign,  run by Kristina Tamane from School of GeoSciences/the Bayes Centre and Daniel Smith of AstroAgency, in partnership with organisations such as the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Friends of the Earth and the European Space Agency.

 The idea behind this international campaign was to engage a range of groups, including environmental organisations, academia, schools, government agencies, businesses and the wider public, to seek specific issues for the space sector to address together in relation to the environment. 

 The initiative is an opportunity to demonstrate the space sector’s appetite to collaborate and find solutions to some of the most pressing sustainability and environmental issues for our industry, whilst proactively engaging with environmental groups to showcase developing efforts in this area and establish productive, ongoing dialogue. From the large number of submissions received over an eight-week period, three challenges have now been selected by an independent panel, as follows:  

1.       Identify ways to quantify, classify and assess the human-made space object population, leveraging big data (space and non-space) to better understand the nature of the space debris and orbital carrying capacity problem, whilst working towards the environmental protection of the near-earth space ecosystem. Workshop leads: Luke Vanstone (Astronomy Technology Centre/Higgs Centre for Innovation) and Derek Harris (Skyrora)

2.       Define a holistic, internationally adoptable approach to measuring the true impact of the space sector (direct and indirect) on the environment, to enable the reduction of carbon emissions and ensure a meaningful contribution towards wider net zero targets. Workshop lead: Hina Khan (Spire)

3.       Explore the development of an open and accessible digital library of space data that connects and empowers citizen science initiatives around diverse Earth-based environmental data, to support deeper insight and better decision making from space-sourced information. Workshop lead: Sue Kee (AAC Clyde Space)

 This initiative has reached a critical stage and we would like to invite your active participation. The next step is to run a short work streams for each challenge, bringing the sector together to explore potential solutions and ideas before the end of May.

 Should you wish to join a specific work stream or receive more details on timings, please let Kristina (K.Tamane@ed.ac.uk) know. We are keen to engage as widely as possible, both internationally and with complimentary 'non-space' sectors, ensuring the most effective and innovative solutions are put forward from these challenges. 

 If you do not wish to participate but know of contacts in your network that would be suited to any of the challenges, please kindly pass these details on. 

 We are expecting to showcase the workshop outcomes and suggested next steps initially at the online Sustainable Space Summit event on the 23rd June (you can register here: http://bit.ly/SustainSpaceSum) and then at COP26 and other major international events later in the year.