LDE Space Day: adding value of space research to applications on Earth

On 29 November 2022, the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Universities welcomed researchers, governmental organisations, representatives of the space industry, young professionals and students to the Aula of the TU Delft. The first LDE Space Day, in collaboration with NL Space Campus, and many other partners from the space industry, brought together space research and industry. Part of the programme were two NL Space Campus Curiosity series sessions: ‘Philab; Accelerating transformational innovations’ and a second edition of ‘Digital Twinning of Earth’, and a panel discussion with experts from the space industry. The day ended in the annual event Discover Your Space, where students meet the space industry. 

The LDE Space Day is an initiative of Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Universities, in cooperation with NL Space Campus and many other partners from the space sector. With a programme packed with themed sessions and presentations, the LDE Space Day offered many opportunities to enrich knowledge and meet peers. During LDE Space Day, researchers and industry came together and discussed topics such as Philab, Digital Twinning, Climate, Robotics, and Space Traffic Management. The day ended with Discover Your Space, a student and young professional networking event organised by NVR, VSV Leonardo da Vinci, SpaceNed, LDE and NL Space Campus, where 26 organisations and societies pitched learning and working opportunities to the attending 200 future employees of the space industry.


Panel Discussion: Space technology for terrestrial applications

Wim van den Doel, Professor of Humanities and Technology at Technische Universiteit Delft and Dean of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Universities alliance, moderated the panel discussion with experts ranging from archaeology and environmental studies to robotics and space law. Space has a lot to offer for everyday life applications. Whether it is to monitor air quality in urban environments with satellite remote sensing or introduce terrestrial industries to innovative space spinoffs, such as closed-loop systems and filters developed for the International Space Station. Joanna Ruijter, Advisor Satellite Applications at the Netherlands Space Office (NSO), and Dimitra Stefoudi, PhD member of the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University, both emphasised the importance of communicating about how space contributes to our well-being in daily life.

However, not everyone is aware of the benefits of space. First off, governmental stakeholders need to be well informed about the added value and Return On Investment of space applications. It is crucial to demonstrate how data can be translated into actionable information. With its Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) programme, the NSO promotes the development of satellite- and geodata-based services that strengthen food production and the livelihoods of smallholder food producers in developing countries. The use of satellite data results in agricultural advice to small-scale farmers and helps to optimise policy-making, contributing to several of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Another effective approach is pinpointing connections with other areas where space could add value. The possibilities for synergies between space and other sectors are plentiful. Even archaeology can benefit from space. Satellite imagery can be used to uncover hidden ancient sites, as well as to monitor and safeguard cultural heritage. Tuna Kalayci, Assistant Professor of Archaeological Computer Sciences, and part of the Digital Archaeology research group, together with Chris Verhoeven, Leader of the Zebro Swarm Team of the TU-Delft Robotics Institute, is looking into the possibility of a robotics-supported archaeological field research system: ArES (Archaeological Research Swarm). ArES could help archaeologists to scout the most promising areas while saving a lot of time and resources. The idea is to utilise Rover technology of the Lunar Zebro project, aiming to send a swarm of small autonomous robots to the Moon. In the end, lunar rovers designed for the future could thus also come in handy to visit the past here on Earth. The robust Zebro Rover is ideal for rough and difficult terrains and would be an ideal robotics system to look for artefacts.

Discover Your Space offers industry networking with future employees

The evening was hosted by NVR and VSV Leonardo Da Vinci, in collaboration with NL Space Campus and SpaceNed. Every year over 200 students join this event. There were over 26 industry agency pitches and afterwards a networking event was hosted for students interested to work in the Space Industry. Students aspiring for a career in the space industry were able to meet the companies, institutes, societies and agencies they are interested in. They are the future employees of the high-tech and space industry and NL Space Campus is always ready to support events with this goal!

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