European space agencies have banded together to try and prevent any catastrophic impact events with €4 million funding for the exploration and exploitation of asteroids.
Stardust Reloaded – which is backed by the European, German and French space agencies, as well as other backers – is also set to research sustainability in space over four years.
The project will be headed by University of Strathclyde Professor Massimiliano Vasile and awarded the funding this week through the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Initial Training Networks (ITN) action of the European Union H2020 programme.
Professor Vasile said the programme would build off the original Stardust project from 2013 – which pioneered new techniques for asteroid and space debris monitoring.
“Stardust Reloaded will take a leap further, to understand the evolution of the space environment around Earth and how the ever-increasing traffic in space can be safely managed to prevent inevitable collisions and allow a sustainable use of space. A necessity for the future that is increasingly reliant on space-based products,” he said.
The new project will focus on researching the shape, gravity, composition and dynamics of asteroids and comets in view of possible actions to prevent a catastrophic impact with the Earth. The team is also set to investigate how mineral resources on asteroids could be exploited to enhance solar system exploration.
“There are so many people launching satellites now – particularly smaller and smaller ones – that the risk of collision, and with it the risk of setting off a cascade, is greatly increasing,” Professor Vasile said.
“With this project we aim to understand how the growth in satellites orbiting Earth affects the evolution of the space environment and how we can best manage that.”
Along with the governmental backing, Stardust Reloaded is supported by 17 other partners with the aim to help fund early-stage career researchers. “These funding opportunities are extremely competitive with a success rate of around just six or seven percent,” Professor Vasile said.
“So it is incredibly satisfying to have been so successful with our applications. It is a reflection of the quality of the projects and the prestige of the partners involved.”
About 350,000 more people are employed by European tech firms than five years ago, new data reveals.
The latest figures from European technology industries show that they are growing fast: turnover is up 5 per cent in 2017, and 2018 is set to mark the fifth consecutive year of growth.
Tech firms of the continent have created 350,000 new jobs over the past five years, with the industry now directly employing 11 million people. Annual turnover of the industry is also reaching new heights: for example, technology industries are now earning about €2,000 billion euro every year; compare this with the gross domestic product of France which stood at €2,029 billion in 2016.
The new figures, produced by Orgalime who represent 40 European trade federations in the mechanical, electrical, electronics and metalworking and metal sectors, do warn however of the potential for tough times ahead.
Orgalime director general Malte Lohan said to Euractiv that order books last year were hit by volatility in the pound sterling – related to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit – as well as the depreciation of the US dollar relative to the euro.
“The populist movement remains a potent force and has the upcoming European Parliament elections firmly in its sight. Add to that the growing influence of far-right parties in governments across Europe, and we can expect pressure to build on open borders, the free movement of labour, the internal market and even independent judiciaries,” he said.
“This is a real cause for concern, as these major EU achievements have also been instrumental in our industries’ success.”
But, for now, Lohan hailed the success of the European technology scene. He noted that 5 per cent growth in 2017 is double the 2.5 per cent growth of the Eurozone GDP: a figure hailed as a ten-year high.
With output forecast to rise again by 3.5 per cent in 2018, Lohan said the tech industries’ impressive run looks set to continue.