Satellites in orbit underpin our modern lives. They are used in many areas and disciplines, including space science, Earth observation, meteorology, climate research, telecommunication, navigation and human space exploration. However, as space activities have increased, a new and unexpected hazard has started to emerge: space debris.
If space debris – uncontrolled human-made objects such as spent upper stages of rockets and pieces of satellites – hits a satellite, it could cause serious damage, which can even end a mission (as has happened in the past). If debris crashes on Earth’s surface, it could potentially hit populated areas.
In this second video, Nicolas looks back on the first key steps taken at ESA to develop the Space Safety Programme, devoted to the detection, prevention and mitigation of threats originating from space. This includes not just space debris but also asteroids and space weather. The latter is an intense, occasional energetic storm of particles and material emitted by the Sun. Mitigating these hazards protects our planet, society and economically-important infrastructure on Earth and in orbit.
A key element for the forecasting and prevention of space weather is to observe the Sun from the side. Discover more in this second video of the ESA Masterclass with Nicolas Bobrinsky. With 35 years of experience at ESA, Nicolas Bobrinsky is the former Head of Ground Systems Engineering & Innovation Department. He initiated and further managed the Space Situational Awareness and later the ESA Space Safety Programme.
In four episodes of this new series of ESA Masterclass, Nicolas takes us through major events in his career at ESA, covering cornerstone missions, first attempts, overcoming technical challenges, leading diverse teams and solving the unexpected problems that are part of any space endeavour.