Infinite Horizons: June. 12th “Space astronomy, past and future: a personal (Western) perspective”

Speaker: Prof. Fabio Favata (Imperial College & Thalatta Consulting Ltd.)

June. 12th, 2024

4pm, Beijing time

Watch it on Zoom

We have the pleasure to host the next Infinite Horizons’ seminar on June 12th, 2024. Our host will be Prof. Fabio Favata from the Imperial College & Thalatta Consulting Ltd.. Prof. Favata will talk about Space astronomy, past and future: a personal (Western) perspective.
Seminar’s abstract:
Space astronomy is a historically young discipline, with the first successful space telescope (OAO-2, a 30 cm UV telescope) launched by NASA in 1968. While the first space telescopes were hardly larger than today’s amateur instruments, we have gone a long way, culminating with the Webb observatory, the largest space telescope ever launched. We have surely lived, in the past few decades, through a “golden age” of space astronomy, that has enabled discoveries that have changed our understanding of physics and of the Universe (e.g., the existence of dark energy, or the accurate cosmological models enabled by the CMB maps).
This unprecedented success story has been made possible by a number of circumstances which may not extend straightforwardly into the future, at least in the US and in Europe. While many astronomers take further significant progress in the development of space facilities for granted, reality is likely to be more complex. The development of new large facilities by both NASA and ESA has met a number of challenges, both politically and technically. In addition, the time elapsed from the initial scientific idea to its fruition through the results of an actual space mission now often spans beyond the duration of a career. It is not obvious that the same approach and vision that has served space astronomy so well in the past will be successful in the future, and the golden age risks to be followed by an era in which the pace of progress slows significantly.
In this talk, Prof. Favata will discuss how and why have we come to this point, what are the risks for the future, in particular for the younger generation of scientists, as well as new opportunities and possible solutions. Key elements include the importance of a diverse ecosystem of scientific ideas and facilities, of the new space ecosystem, as well as the growing, critical role in this field played by space actors in Asia.

Zoom ID: 861 1550 8855
Livestream Link:
(Our Infinite Horizons seminars are usually host on the third Wednesday of the month)

About the speaker: 

Prof. Fabio Favata is a physicist who has carried active research in a number of fields prior to moving into the management of scientific space missions at the European Space Agency (ESA). He has retired from ESA in October 2023 after having held for 15 years a key position in the management of the Agency’s Scientific Programme, and has started a number of new professional challenges in the field of space science. He’s now contributing to the college’s vision in the field of new space at the Imperial College of London, fostering creative thinking among students and young staff in defining innovative, low-cost space science missions. Moreover, since 2023 he has been working as a Senior Strategy Advisor for ISSI-BJ, helping to shape the long-term strategy of the institute, an innovative scale-up in the field of space science.
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