Nearly half a million people joined the onsite and online 7th edition of the European Rover Challenge, that took place on the campus of the Kielce University of Technology, Poland from 10 to 12 September 2021. The event not only gathered people onsite but also attracted viewers from the farthest corners of the world thanks to a live broadcast and numerous live social media accounts.
In addition to the rovers competition taking place on Mars Yard, the event featured a diverse, three-day Inspiration Zone program.
Special workshops within the ERC Exhibitors Zone
There were stations dedicated especially to “How do we know the climate is changing?” three-day cycle of workshops within ERC Exhibitors Zone, taking place from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
The workshop stations were divided into three topical sections with several experiments and tasks to be done by participants:
- Seeing invisible light: it was focused on showing participants that our eyes can see only a part of the light spectrum, and using special devices allows us to see and use other parts of the electromagnetic waves. Seeing the “invisible light” is important to understand how satellites collecting data on climate change are working.
- Building spectrometers – Its aim was to teach people principles behind recognizing features remotely, based on analyzing detailed properties of light reflected from surfaces. This is the basis for the remote detection in satellite images and global temperature measurements.
- Satellite data analysis – showing that multispectral satellite images (MODIS, Sentinel, Landsat) can be used to measure temperature over the globe and detect consequences of climate changes at the local scale. Demonstration how digital elevation models of planets can be made from stereopairs and used to track decrease of ice cover. It consisted of two types of workstations for younger and older participants:
- Puzzle showing satellite images of some known features in Poland like: Wawel, Warsaw’s center or Tatry Mountains, as well as Kielce city. This encouraged (the youngest) participants to focus on the satellite images and find connections between what they know from the surface to what they see from above.
- Showing how digital elevation models of Earth are made: participants could look at the stereopairs (pairs of satellite or plane images showing the same place but from different angles) using a stereoscope. This is a classical technique in satellite data analysis that (in its modern – electronically calculated version) is used to trace volume changes of glaciers.
- Satellite analysis data: a set of exercises allowing participants to learn how to use a Google Earth Engine to analyze data on Earth climate collected by METEOSAT, Aqua, NOAA, ENVISAT, LANDSAT 8. For example, participants prepared an interactive map of temperature 2 meters above ground that showed changes in years 1979 and 2020. Another exercise was showing participants how to use LANDSAT data to calculate the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index that can be used to detect influence of draught on vegetation or trace re-growth of plants after the forest fire.
All workshops were accompanied by a set of posters explaining specific topics related to the discussed issues. During our three-day workshops cycle held at the ERC Exhibitors Zone we were visited by about 5 thousand people in all ages.
Lectures, presentations and debates
In addition to the workshops within the exhibitors zone ERC visitors could listen to the lectures on Mars exploration, the commercialization of the Moon, and the impact of space technology on life on Earth. Keynote speakers and debate participants included: Robert Cabana, Associate Administrator of NASA, Robert Zubrin (The Mars Society), Dr Tania Harrison (Outer Space Institute/ NASA), Justyna Redełkiewicz (European Union Agency for the Space Programme EUSPA), Andrew Chaikin, author of the book “A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts”, Dr. Anna Łosiak (Institute of Geological Sciences PAS/ ERC Science), Billy Almon (Astrobiofuturist/ Biomimicry Institute), Jim Garvin (NASA Goddard Flight Center), Ken Davidian (Federal Aviation Administration), and Artemis Westenberg, Janet Ivey and Chris Carberry of Explore Mars.
Our speakers discussed also the topic of climate change in their presentations throughout the entire 3-day ERC. However, most of the climate related topics were covered during the Sunday, September 12, that was a day dedicated on ERC Inspiration Zone to the Earth. We screened a set of eco-educational videos (specially prepared by our exhibitors for our event) about the importance of the water resources management, biodiversity, batteries and electro-waste segregation and recycling.
In a series of presentations named “Space technologies for the Earth” our international speakers, including e.g.: Annalisa Donati (Eurisy), Anna Krzyżanowska (Danish Technological Institute), André Radloff (PTS Space), Jacek Strzelczyk (SATIM), Remco Timmermans (Earth Observation Ambassador for Fire Forum), Cesar Urrutia (AG Space, Peru), talked about the use of the latest technologies designed for space missions in our everyday life, various industries and services, and their use in climate change observation and protection of our planet. Thanks to these lectures, ERC audience (onsite and online) could learn:
- how IoT systems and printed electronics help to reduce waste generation,
- how companies use satellite data in their business e.g. to keep tracking the level of pollution and the carbon footprint they leave behind,
- how city and regional authorities use satellite data e.g. for monitoring the level of irrigation and mapping quantity of trees in urban areas, following road traffic, development planning, observation of the level of subsidence of post-mining soils,
- how precision agriculture and the new technologies can help us to reduce water consumption and the use of plant protection products.
The 7th edition of the ERC event was presented on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and in main TV and radio channels, press and internet portals, including:
TVN, TVN24, TVP Info, Polsat, TVP Polonia, RMF, RMF24, Radio Kielce, Polskie Radio Program 4, Meloradio, Radio Supernova, Radio Eska, Radio Talk FM, PAP Nauka w Polsce, Onet.pl, Space24, Astrofaza, Urania, Antyweb, X-kom, Kosmonauta.net, Spider’s Web, My Company Polska, Spacewatch Global, Technology.org.
The official video of ERC 2021 – can be watched on: ERC YouTube
The project is supported by the U.S. Consulate General in Krakow, Poland – Projekt realizowany przy wsparciu Konsulatu Generalnego USA w Krakowie.