COSPAR 2021 #ST40 [fr]
The 43rd edition of the Committee for Space Research (COSPAR) was held from the 28th of January to the 4th of February 2021.
This year, the international conference was organised by Australia in a hybrid format, held partly in Sydney and partly online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Organised every two years by the scientific community, COSPAR is an opportunity for researchers from all around the world to present their work in the field of space. This year, the event brought together more than 2,000 scientific presentations covering a wide range of topics.
How to explore Venus despite its harsh weather conditions? Can plants be grown in space? How can astronauts be protected from space radiation? What are the environmental impacts of space activities, and how can we reduce them? These are all questions that scientists are currently trying to answer.
During the Roundtable of the major global space agencies’ leaders, the speakers reviewed the main events of 2020, and highlighted international collaboration in particular. Karl Rodrigues, Deputy Director of the Australian Space Agency (ASA), thanked the international agencies for their support during the major fires that hit Australia earlier this year. Jean-Yves Le Galle, Director of the French space agency CNES, recalled the Franco-Australian collaboration agreement from the creation of the ASA.
Hitoshi Kuninaka, Director General of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, also highlighted the success of the Hayabusa-2 mission, carried out in collaboration with the Australian, French and American space agencies. The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft landed in December 2020 in the Woomera Desert in Australia, bringing to Earth a 5g sample of black sand from asteroid Ryugu.
COSPAR was also an opportunity to reward significant players in space research worldwide. The Harrie Massey Award, named after the Australian mathematical physicist, was awarded to Alexander Held, research director at CSIRO, for his pioneering work on Earth observation. French researcher Jean-Louis Fellous received the Distinguished Service Medal for his great involvement in the organisation of COSPAR over many years, and Australian researcher Ken McCracken was awarded for his outstanding contributions to space science.
COSPAR also aimed to reward the work of researchers starting their careers in the space field. Among them, three French residents, Hongru Chen, researcher at the Observatoire de Paris, Eva Jalabert, engineer at the CNES, and Matthias Raynal, engineer at the company Collecte Localisation Satellite at Ramonville St-Agne (France) have received the Outstanding Paper Awards for Young Scientists. They explain their research:
The far side of the Moon will be intensively explored in the near future. Challenges of navigation and communication arise as the far side is invisible to the Earth. In this article, I proposed placing a CubeSat constellation in the Earth-Moon L2 halo orbit to support the positioning of lunar far-side assets (e.g. landers). The mission concept was proven feasible mainly through the deployment trajectory design. The CubeSats can be distributed evenly in the halo orbit (i.e. for forming a geometry optimal for coverage and positioning accuracy) at small speed change (or fuel) cost. The complete feasibility study considers full dynamics and system constraints.
Once launched into space, the clocks on satellites do not beat regularly on the second: we could say that they are drifting. The purpose of this article is to study how clocks drift, thanks to GPS measurements, especially when they pass over the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA), an area known for its higher radiation levels. Then, we use the information of the clock drift calculated with the GPS to improve the precision of positioning calculations using the DORIS measurements (French positioning system developed by the CNES).
Cryosat-2 is the first Earth observation satellite to carry a synthetic aperture altimeter. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that, while continuing the so-called conventional altimetric missions, this new technology makes it possible to improve the observability of fine ocean structures.
The COSPAR ended on 04 February, and opened up many discussions. Among them, the fight against global warming represents one of the greatest challenges of the coming years in which space research, through Earth observation, will play a major role. In this fight, international collaboration between space agencies will be essential.
For the next edition of COSPAR, r see you in Athens in July 2022!