Episode 2/2 of Sustainability@work
This week’s Sustainability@Work guest is Alessandra Capurro. She is a master’s student at EPFL (https://www.epfl.ch/about/) studying space technologies and robotics engineering. Soon, she will begin working on her master’s thesis with ESO (European Southern Observatory https://www.eso.org/public/) where she will help develop a project management tool to calculate the carbon budget of space projects.
In this conversation with Alessandra, we will discuss what sustainability in space means as well as the two biggest problems: measuring the impact of space missions and space junk. We will also discuss the role of space in the sustainable development of life on Earth and the role of the space community in strengthening our understanding of climate change and the fragility of life on Earth.
Alessandra is also involved in a private project called EcoLens that measures the impact of meals and restaurant food on campus. As a result of this project, she won the Next Hero 2021 award and went to Antarctica.
There is great information in this episode and a new perspective on sustainability less based on materials and more based on the use of space and the future of many of the technologies we take for granted on Earth.
Here are some details about our guest:
Master’s student at EPFL. In February 2022 she will start her master’s thesis working with ESO (European Southern Observatory) where she will develop a project management tool that adds a carbon budget to the project. The objective is to be able to estimate and reduce the carbon footprint of a project before it begins.
In the meantime, she is working with eSpace, EPFL’s space center on a new service called Space Sustainability Rating (SSR – https://espace.epfl.ch/research/space-sustainability-rating/?doing_wp_cron=1643364982.8784859180450439453125) This is a new rating system that aims at assessing the sustainability of space missions, providing recommendations, and incentivizing sustainable behavior. For them, right now she is setting the basis to lead a sub-project with SGAC where they will look at the technical aspects of the rating identifying weaknesses that need to be worked on.
Aside from her work, she has started a project called EcoLens, which assesses the sustainability of the meals of restaurants and encourages people to choose more sustainable options. Through this project, she won the NexGen Hero 2021 prize for her work on digital development, as well as a trip to Antarctica in 2021.
Additional resources suggested by Alessandra:
– The ESA space debris website
Their latest report (https://www.esa.int/Safety_Security/Space_Debris/ESA_s_Space_Environment_Report_2021 )
With a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9aqfIAJrJo )
The definition of sustainability (https://www.esa.int/var/esa/storage/images/esa_multimedia/images/2021/04/the_long-term_sustainability_of_space/23245148-1-eng-GB/The_long-term_sustainability_of_space_pillars.jpg ), and their contribution to SDGs (https://sdg.esa.int/ ).
– A very interesting TEDx – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqrahBJkKAs
– The SSR website – https://espace.epfl.ch/research/space-sustainability-rating/
– A company based in Switzerland that supports other companies that want to implement SDGs in space – https://space4impact.org/
– Great website to visualize the number of objects orbiting in space – http://www.stuffin.space/
– As for movies: Gravity for sure, but also Don’t Look Up: invest in space allows us to have solutions in case a too-big meteorite gets to Earth (not so impossible).
– A TED talk in Italian about why it’s important to go to space. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GHId7UewDo&t=132s
Note to an amendment on the show: Alessandra talks about respirators for Covid 19, but she meant that space technology contributed to the invention of TAC. And also, when she talks about “whaling” (min 33) the correct dates are: starting in 1904 and ending in 1965. Not the eighties.