Space Science



Since the 1960s, space research discoveries have considerably broadened our understanding of the universe. Thanks to the achievements of the ESA's science programme, Europe now plays a major role in infrared astronomy, x-ray astronomy and astrometry as well as in solar system research and observation of the Sun. In its long-term programme Cosmic Vision 2015-2025, ESA established an objective of maintaining, or even strengthening, Europe's key role in space research.

With CHEOPS Switzerland is for the first time in the driver seat for a space based science mission. Based on recent discoveries a lot of new approaches will be validated. It is therefore a perfect example of the importance of education, research and Innovation for "Location Switzerland".

Swiss contributions to ESA science missions

The Swiss scientific community is involved in the definition of ESA science programmes. Working with Swiss industry, Swiss scientists make a significant contribution to the creation of complex payloads for major space research missions. The advanced technological development that has accompanied this participation is an important asset for our economy. Moreover, space projects play a major role in the training of junior scientists and engineers.

The projects sponsored by ESA science programmes occupy groups of researchers from Switzerland's two federal institutes of technology (EPF Lausanne and ETH Zurich), several cantonal universities and other research institutes, including the University of Geneva's INTEGRAL Science Data Centre. The International Space Science Institute in Bern also plays a key role at the international level in the area of data analysis and the definition of new missions.

In ESA programmes, Swiss space science focuses primarily on astrophysics (observation of the universe), the study of celestial bodies in our solar system and fundamental physics experiments. Swiss scientists have made important contributions to ESA science missions MarsExpress, SMART-1, Rosetta and Herschel and Planck, among others. Plans are currently underway for the substantial involvement of Swiss researchers in future ESA-sponsored missions BepiColombo, Gaia, LISA Pathfinder and in European contributions to NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

Internationally competitive, Swiss industry holds a solid position in the technologies required in numerous projects to develop satellites and space probes. This ensures that Switzerland will be able to take part in ESA science programmes such as the Programme for the Development of Scientific Experiments (PRODEX), which is specifically intended to foster the exchange of knowledge between research institutes and industry.

A complete overview of Swiss space research activities can be found in the publications of the Swiss Committee on Space Research (CSR) and the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT).

Further information