After signing the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Plan for European Cooperating State (PECS Charter), Latvia is finally ready to implement its first space projects. Currently, Latvia participates in three ESA activities – earth observation, space technologies and education, covering topics such as satellite data simulation, development of polyurethane foam insulation for space shuttle, education programme for satellite construction and enhancing children and youngsters’ awareness of space field and technology.
The path to the implementation of space projects was not easy for Latvia. Out of the 33 projects submitted from Latvia in ESA’s PECS call for proposal in 2013, 10 were deemed to be sufficient quality by ESA experts. As Latvia didn’t manage to pay ESA’s membership fee in 2013, the projects were postponed. Finally, on February 2015 after long negotiations an agreement was reached and the necessary membership fee was paid, which has opened the door to start 5 of the 10 approved space projects.
The two IES proposals received ESA’s highest evaluations in Latvia and on May 1, 2015 IES started to implement both projects. By using advanced hyperspectral remote sensing technologies mounted in research aircraft, IES’s scientists and engineers are going to simulate data of ESA future satellites – Sentinel-2, Sentinel-3.
The added value of IES’s unique sensor system which opens the possibility to simulate ESA’s future satellite’s data at the present time, attracted the experts’ attention the most.
Such widely used products as satellite television, internet and navigation have been developed using knowledge acquired by the space industry. IES’s scientists and engineers will produce satellite data algorithms for earth observation and marine monitoring to look into the future and pave the way for the next generation of space inspired products.
IES’s CEO Inese Suija-Markova points out the environmental benefits: “The produced algorithms will help to use satellite data for analysis of land cover-land use, ecological situation of the Baltic Sea, spread of invasive species, dynamics of forest resources and vitality, identification of damaged areas, wetlands, flood risk areas and degraded ecosystems and different aspects of biodiversity.”
Accurate data of land cover is a valuable source of information for the Rural Support Service, the Latvian Rural Advisory and Training Centre, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environmental and Regional Development, Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre and other institutions.
I.Suija-Markova emphasizes the importance of cooperation with ESA: “The ability to implement space projects is a huge breakthrough raising the competitiveness of Latvian science and private sector. We have strong faith that Latvia can become a major part of the global space industry. The possibility to work with ESA will enable us to strengthen international cooperation with the key players of science sector, to attract talented researchers and specialists to Latvia, as well as to provide adequate working conditions for Latvian scientists.”
The projects are funded by European Space Agency (ESA)