The fragility and beauty of our planet came into focus yesterday with a special viewing of satellite images at Rome’s Palazzo delle Esposizioni. The event was attended by the heads of ESA, NASA, Italy’s space agency and representatives from the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The exhibition “My Planet from Space: Fragility and Beauty” takes viewers on a journey to some of the most beautiful and remote places on Earth, demonstrating the challenges posed by climate change.
“There is no alternative to our planet,” ESA’s Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, reminded the audience. “We have to take care of planet Earth – and this is the main objective of the exhibition.”
Glaciers melting, rainforests threatened by deforestation, growing desertification, uncontrolled urban sprawl – the exhibition highlights the importance of spaceborne technology in the management and protection of natural resources and the global environment.
“When viewed from orbit, our borderless Earth inspires a sense of humility, unity of humanity and also wonder,” noted NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr, a former astronaut.
“But it shouldn’t take a ride into outer space to convince people of the beauty of our planet Earth, and the need to take care of our pale blue dot in the Universe.”
He highlighted how the exhibition helps people to discover Earth’s fragility and inspires viewers to become better stewards. Mr Bolden highlighted the responsibility of space agencies to provide vital information to respond to the critical challenges facing our planet: “Climate change is the scientific and societal challenge of our generation.”
Roberto Battiston, the President of Italy’s ASI space agency, noted that while space technologies have been helping us to make numerous discoveries about our planet for decades, we are only at the beginning of Earth observation applications and the exploitation of data to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The exhibition was organised to celebrate the 50th anniversary of European cooperation in space, as well as the six-month Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Federico Garimberti, spokesperson for the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU, touched on the practical applications that space research has in our daily lives.
The head of the representation of the European Commission in Italy, Lucio Battistotti, spoke about the space sector as an important economic source, supporting the development of small and medium enterprises throughout Europe.
The exhibition is also acting as a backdrop to the two-day event on Europe’s Copernicus environment monitoring programme, starting today.
The ‘Copernicus Days’ event aims to provide public administrations, researchers and businesses with practical examples of satellite data applications in environment, risk management, energy and territorial planning.
Data from Sentinel-1A, the first satellite for Copernicus, became available yesterday for an array of operational services and scientific research, marking a new era in Earth observation.
The “My Planet from Space” exhibition runs to 2 November. For more information, visit the Palazzo delle Esposizioni website.