Finnish Satellite Workshop is the biggest New Space meetup event in Finland, trending to become a truly European conference. The event is already well known in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries.
Once a year it brings together specialists, entrepreneurs, scientists and students to discuss current topics in the space tech. The event focuses on New Space, small satellite & space science missions and instruments, Earth Observation and sustainable utilization of space, not forgetting about collaboration and politics.
This year’s event was arranged together with the Finnish Remote Sensing Club and it contained also Finnish Remote Sensing Days. Finnish Satellite Workshop took place at Dipoli, head quarter of Aalto University and one of the landmarks of Finnish architecture situated in the city of Espoo.
During the three days of the conference, parallel sessions were held in two lecture halls, Kaleva and Lumituuli. The lobby area was reserved for industry exhibition, posters and networking, and additional splinter meeting rooms were available on site.
We were happy to hear that altogether 520 participants registered for the event. Several workshops and side events were arranged along the happening, as well as traditional Finnish Sauna after the conference day. The format of the workshop was relaxed, focusing on the content and collaboration.
The programme was wide-ranging, and here are some highlights.
Earth Observation Data provides awareness on the planet
On the first day, we had sessions on topics of Missions, Space Policy, Climate Change and GNSS.
We had an overview on the status of the Copernicus, extremely active Earth Observation programme that started in early 2000. Only 20 years ago weather forecasting by using satellites was novelty, now common everyday service, available for everyone. In 2021-2027 there will be an evolution of Copernicus 2.0 and European union is finally starting to fund new missions – climate change is on everyone’s agenda.
Thanks to satellites, we have now learned, that the cities produce approx. 70% of global CO2 emissions, and 90% of European emissions are coming from only 8% area of Europe. There is a huge reduction potential.
Copernicus is the most advanced EO programme, which is constantly answering the growing demands of community on monitoring climate change, natural disasters, sustainable development and improving our general awareness on the planet. Current areas of interest at this moment are loss of snow and ice and air pollution.
A Review of Space Policy
Finnish space expertise comprises cutting-edge research and competence in electronics and software used in space components. Finnish companies and research organizations have participated in the design and preparation process for dozens of satellites, in European Space Agency (ESA) projects and with international partners. The international co-work has been increasing from the late 70s-80s – and yet there is no Space Agency in Finland. The Finnish Space Committee operates as an advisory board under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is responsible e.g. for the space policy, authorization for space activities and the registry of space objects in Finland. The objective of the space strategy is to make Finland the world’s most attractive and agile space business environment for the space companies & research parties by 2025.
Arctic Satellite Centre
Tuesday’s topics were Science Instruments, CubeSat Missions, Future Technologies, New Space, EO for regulations and monitoring, Space Solutions for Business and Forestry.
Arctic Space Centre located north of the Arctic Circle in Sodankylä lies in an excellent location for receiving data from all polar orbiting spacecraft. Finnish Meteorological Institute operates the satellite data centre. As a Copernicus Sentinel Collaborative Ground Station, the NSDC serves national and international partners by hosting long-term archive of Sentinels’ data from northern hemisphere and supporting worldwide research activities of Arctic conditions. The center opened in 2017 and it is third national Sentinel Data center, monitoring the conditions of water (Sentinel-series dataset covers approx. 87% of the Finnish water bodies), land and atmosphere in the frames of Copernicus programme. The next big step would be deploying the AI-driven data analyzing to the handling process of the massive space data.
Miranda Saarentaus from Geowise chairing the Business Session
Miranda Saarentaus (Geowise) opened and chaired the ‘Space Solutions for Business.’ Geowise is working as a ‘honest broker’ between ESA and the Finnish companies, tightly cooperating with Business Finland.
Tony Sephton from the European Space Agency provided an overview on ESA Space Solutions, covering the role of the ESA Business Applications programme, the Business Incubations Centres (BICs) and the ESA Technology Brokers.
Maria Pusa (Fourkind) showed an interesting case on Artificial Intelligence in action (AI-optimized aviation in the Airport of Kittilä, Northern Finland).
Joni Norppa, CEO of the Terramonitor company showcased how Terramonitor delivers their clients any satellite images on the world – cloudfree. They have enabled easy access to the desired satellite data as a service.
Sudip Kumar Pal, Business Developer of Wuudis Solutions presented their forerunning mobile-based forest digitalization solutions for autonomous forest management and monitoring.
5G Test Network by VTT
The Wednesday’s topics addressed CubeSat Missions, SATCom technologies & 5G, SAR Applications, Climate and EO Data.
VTT is running the 5G Test Network Finland (5GTNF), an open and evolving innovation ecosystem supporting 5G and beyond in technology research and validation.
5GTNF is a joint effort from industry, academia and Finnish government. Interdisciplinary approach is achieved by co-operation between telecom and vertical area technology and business experts, utilization of AI, design of the mobile network operator for research and review of potential new business models.
Data Protection and Space – Is Space-based Data a challenge for GDPR?
Heidi Kuusniemi (National Land Survey of Finland) set out what challenges GDPR will face in handling space-based data. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), implemented in May 2018 is the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years, replacing an outdated data protection directive from 1995. Having a widespread reach to all EU member countries, the regulation ensures that all companies and businesses must adhere to one standard.
As digital infrastructures are expanding to space, legal issues and regulation of protecting personal and location data related to space-based big data are key enablers for viable and sustainable new space economy.
The use of remote sensing technology and satellite connectivity is generating and distributing huge amounts of data. Variety of that data may apparently seem unconnected, but in combination with other factors, it can produce accurate user information. The definition of “personal data” in the GDPR, specifically includes location data as one of the elements by reference to which a person can be identified.