Czech scientists plan to create a map of resources in space

The National Space Plan of the Czech Republic has received its first ambitious project from ESA. The “Space Laboratory for Advanced Variable Instruments and Applications”, or SLAVIA as the project is cleverly abbreviated, will serve as a demonstration of selected technologies that could be used in the future for prospecting for raw materials on the Moon as well as on asteroids.

Petr Kapoun |  Photo: SAB Aerospace

According to Petr Kapoun, CEO of Brno-based SAB Aerospace, which is leading the consortium of companies in the SLAVIA-related negotiations, this could be of great help in an area of ​​the industry that has caught the attention of many wealthy investors in recent years. .

“A few years from now, we’d like to create a resource map in space, so that when we go mining there one day, we’ll already know exactly where to go.”

SLAVIA is counting on the use of two 20-kilogram satellites which will each carry three devices intended to explore asteroid fragments and interplanetary matter entering the Earth’s atmosphere. They include a so-called hyperspectral camera that will analyze the composition of meteoroids and near-Earth asteroids as they enter the planet’s atmosphere, as well as a mass spectrometer that will analyze separated particles directly in orbit. Finally, in order to better understand the behavior of this space debris, the satellites also carry a radio antenna to monitor the plasma.

The measurements will take place 600 km above the Earth’s surface and will therefore provide much more accurate results than if they were to be carried out by scientists in the field, explains Martin Ferus of the Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry in the Netherlands. Czech Academy of Sciences.

Photo: SAB Aerospace

“Our image will not be affected by the atmosphere, the ozone layer, aerosols and clouds. Therefore, we will be able to capture a much wider spectral range. At the same time, we will be able to collect the weight ranges of the dusts that make up these meteors. It’s something no one has done before. »

ESA is expected to distribute more than a billion crowns over the next five years on specific missions it requests from the Czech Republic. The money should be enough to launch up to three missions.

Czechia, already home to the headquarters of the European Space Program Agency (EUSPA), has nearly a hundred aerospace companies and start-ups that have become involved in the space industry over the past two decades.

While most Czechs are still sober about their country’s role in the space industry, in recent years several politicians and business leaders have pushed for more investment in the sector, saying the Czech Republic has the potential to become a leading power in European space technologies. development.

Berta D. Wells