Aarhus Space Centre, SpaCe, is a strategic initiative aiming at securing and developing the Aarhus University position of strength within space physics and space science in general.
The core centre activities are driven through three hubs: Research Hub, Innovation Hub, and Education Hub. There is a strong focus on interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers, technical and administrative staff as well as with students in relevant educational programs.
Our focus is on creating a comprehensive and highly visible coordinating strategic centre, having a clear and definite influence on research, education, innovation, advisory efforts and interdisciplinary collaborations at Aarhus University - both internally and externally.
The main initiatives are:
Data from a wealth of satellites and space vehicles have become a determining factor in order to be able to provide high quality surveillance, observations, environmental studies and modelling of the Earth and the Universe.
Research environments in all corners of Aarhus University can obtain definite advantages from access to well calibrated data products and effictive state of the art modelling that is adapted to the needs of researcers and students from a wide range of disciplines. Furthermore the supply of earth observations data e.g. from open satellite data bases from the Copernicus program is growing rapidly. Usage of these digitizes satellite observationes has an enormous potential to reduce and remedy our problems with climate, environment and biodiversity. We aim to secure easy access to open space data, and to facilitate their effective usage for all at AU via development of the nescessary frames and services, a.o. concerning the availability of all relevant databases, archives (ESA's Copernicus, PLATO) and their active participation in the gathering of new data. For earth observations specifically, we offer a strategic platform for collaborations at AU, enabling us to gather and develop both general and digital competences related to the use of earth observations combined with technological developments within AI, Big Data, Internet of Things and drones. Through these efforts we aim to create a synergy across research groups at AU and to further the ability by AU to accelerate the green conversion.
Also we aim to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations between research environments at AU, and to secure research based education and innovation within space science, thus positioning AU as an international player in the area of applied space science. The ongoing digitalization af space data, a.o. the use of new technology, further supports the fulfillment of European and national targets in the areas of climate, environment, nature and energy. The efforts within these areas are closely connected to such environmental and sectorial effort as Green Deal, the Clean Energy for all Europeans package, Energy Performance of Buildings, etc.
The developments in space industry - also in Denmark - shows that building specially designed instruments and small satellites, plus the development of space hardware as a part of the development of new technologies is not reserved for larger industrial companies and international space organisations like ESA and NASA. We aim at building and running space missions (e.g. STEP, the series of Delphini satellites etc.) and connect this with communications systems, drone projects, high altitude platforms (balloons) and positioning technologies in order to secure access to new technologies and dedicated instruments for specific research projects. We aim to include problem complexes related to the health sciences, including the physiology of astronauts, cognition etc. during manned missions, envisioning a productive collaboration also with local researchers at the AU faculty HEALTH.
Space sciens has already been integrated in various parts of education both at NAT and TECH, but it is limited to ad hoc educational activities aiming at the use of space science in limited projects. Our aim at SpaCe is to build up and offer an introductury program of courses to be utilized in a wide range of education lines across the university range of disciplines. This will enable any students to whom it may be relevant to tone their whole education, single projects, Masters' and PhDs towards space science. The basis is the existing structure at the university of bachelor, masters', civil engineer and ph.d levels. Within a few years we wish to research the possibilities of offering a full Masters' line in space science, in close connection to the already existing lines of engineering, geoscience, biology and physics and astronomy. This part of our efforts will assure that we can offer a range of educations aimed at a future labour market, requiring competences within space technology, the analysis and utilization of space data in order to be able to solve some of the serious challenges to society. The national DISCO project is a part of the educational initiative that we aim to build up under the SpaCe aigis. Another element in the SpaCe educational activities is linking the present national activities related to ISS and the ESA astronaut programs to the development of a specific strategic initiative. More specifically we intend to link recruitment of students to the upcoming activities around the next launch of ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen to the ISS in a few years and to future ESA astronaut recruitment campaigns.
SpaCe is planning to build up efforts to support entrepeneurship and innovation. I February 2021 we participatede in the start up of a Danish chapter of the ESA incubations program ESA BIC. In collaboration with The Kitchen in Universitetsbyen and the established space industry we intend to expand these activities. First spin-off form the AU side in ESA BIC Danmark is the collaboration around the DISCO project.