Celebrating the century of space science

Left: Martin C.E. Huber

It is now hard to describe space science as a new research field – especially when York University is holding a special seminar entitled “The Century of Space Science.” York itself has been active in the field since 1965, when the Centre for Research in Earth & Space Science (CRESS) was established.

The seminar will take place on Friday, July 18, at 3pm in room 317 of the Petrie Building, hosted by CRESS, the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Science. Refreshments will follow in Petrie 315. 

Right: The Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland

Presenting the seminar is the eminent space scientist Prof. Martin C.E. Huber, president of the European Physical Society and guest in the Laboratory for Astrophysics at the Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland. In his talk, he will trace the most influential research findings obtained in space science, and briefly consider some of the prospects for future science in space.

Among many other appointments, Huber is professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at the Swiss institute of technology, ETH Zurich; past head of the Space Science Department of the European Space Agency; editor of Astronomy and Astrophysics Review; and a senior member of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory mission science team.

Huber is co-author of the recently published 1,700-page, two-volume book (left), The Century of Space Science (Kluwer 2001) (www.thecenturyofspacescience.com). The material in these volumes will form the basis of his seminar.

Here is a synopsis of Huber’s seminar:

In the course of its brilliant evolution through the 20th century, space science has brought spectacular results. In the early quest for higher altitude, cosmic rays were discovered by Viktor Hess during a balloon flight in 1912. Following the Second World War, sounding rockets were used, starting in 1946, to study the structure of the terrestrial atmosphere – the threshold of space.

Two landmarks of the space age stand out: the launch, in 1957, of the first satellite, Sputnik 1, which sensed the near-earth environment at orbital altitude; and, in 1969, the first landing by humans on an extra-terrestrial body, the moon.

At the beginning of the 21st century, sophisticated space probes explore distant worlds, and space telescopes look back in time towards the early universe.