Planetary Science as a Driver for Job Creation and Innovation

‘Planetary Science as a Driver for Job Creation and Innovation’ – Dinner Debate at the European Parliament

On 29th May 2012, Europlanet organised a Dinner Debate at the European Parliament in Brussels. The theme of the event was ‘Planetary Science as a Driver for Job Creation and Innovation’. It was co-hosted by MEPs Britta Thomsen and Vittorio Prodi and attended by MEPs Teresa Riera Madurell & Maria Badia Cutchet, MEP assistants, representatives from the European Commission, the European Space Agency, Industry and the Europlanet community.

Innovation lies at the heart of Europe’s planetary exploration programme, which aims to create new understanding of the Earth’s place in space and the conditions needed to support life. Planetary scientists and engineers seek to answer difficult questions in some of the most challenging environments known to humanity. The innovative technologies they develop to gather and return data from across the Solar System have practical and unexpected uses back on Earth. Technological breakthroughs from missions such as Rosetta, which will land on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, have led to viable products with commercial potential in health and defence sectors.

Companies with links to planetary missions span Europe and cover the range from multinational corporations to small suppliers of niche components. Most companies do not work solely on planetary science projects; however it is planetary missions that push the envelope of space technology most rapidly and where innovation is the most essential component. Europlanet provides a platform for planetary scientists and their industrial partners to identify the science and technological goals of the future and work together to find solutions.

  • Technology developed for planetary missions is by its nature innovative. Spacecraft must survive extraordinarily hostile conditions, including massive vibrations on launch, temperature extremes and high radiation doses. In building spacecraft and instrumentation to meet increasingly ambitious science goals, engineers must push the boundaries of technology and materials science.
  • Instrumentation carried by space missions needs to be robust, reliable, compact and low-mass. These qualities make space technologies highly adaptable for commercial applications.
  • The international, multidisciplinary nature of planetary research is a strong driver for European innovation and collaboration between academic institutions, SMEs and industry.
  • Commercial applications of technology and instrumentation derived from planetary missions have led to patents and numerous commercial ventures, both through partnership with existing companies and through start-ups.
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Useful links:
Eurospace: http://www.eurospace.org/
SME4Space: http://www.sme4space.org/
Network of European Regions Using Space Technologies (NEREUS): http://www.nereus-regions.eu/