11 - 15 October 2021 | Virtual Event

New Space

This page shows you the descriptions of all key sessions of the Φ-week 2021. Please refer to the detailed programme page for further details about speakers and presentations.
All times are in Central European Time (CET) time zone.

 Monday, 11.10.2021

Day 1 Key Sessions

 Monday, 11.10.2021

The Market Perspective

This session will host market leader representatives of organizations using Earth Observation products to generate value for the society and the market. You will learn the society and market EO needs and main trends that will constitute the pillars for the future of our sector.

 Monday, 11.10.2021

New Space Enabling Technologies 1

New Space and technology come hand in hand regarding technical innovation and enabling new and more efficient ways to develop and operate more powerful space systems.

In this session you will learn about EO disruptive payload technologies enabling New Space observation techniques.

 Tuesday, 12.10.2021

ɸ-sat Missions: Achievements and Plan for the Future

The ɸ-sats are part of the European Space Agency initiatives to promote the development and in-orbit demonstration of transformative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities onboard Earth Observation (EO) missions. The ɸ-sat programme section aims to provide a general view of the programme, show the achievements of the first ɸ-sat-1 experiment launched in Sept. 2020 on board the FSSCAT mission and the objectives of the second ɸ-sat-2 mission planned to be launched next year.

Tuesday, 12.10.2021

New Space Enabling Technologies 2

New Space and technology come hand in hand regarding technical innovation and enabling new and more efficient ways to develop and operate more powerful space systems.

In this session you will learn about ESA CubeSat enabling technologies and some examples of innovative avionics, communication and operations technologies with the perspective to grow into larger New Space systems.

We will explore the concept of EO system-of-systems, which could merge the world-leading Earth monitoring capacity built through the EU’s Copernicus programme with national and private (ongoing and planned) initiatives. This system-of-systems, powered by disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (Machine Learning), IoT, Blockchains, Quantum Technologies, and in general the digital revolution, will deliver what we could call our future Earth Intelligence system.

Tuesday, 12.10.2021

Blending New Space Technologies and Services 

Space Silo mentality: how to break down the traditional barriers?

The event features high-level decision-makers from ESA Earth Observation Programme, Telecommunication and Integrated Application and Navigation directorates together with ESA Director General and representative from industries. This round table session will be discussing key elements of European strategy to develop a strong New Space sector across the technological borders of space, such as Space Connectivity programme , Destination Earth initiative, Copernicus etc. and the key role ESA and Industry can play in it

 Wednesday, 13.10.2021

DTE Precursors

This session will present the results of the precursor studies launched by ESA in preparation of the Digital Twin Earth implementation activities. It will include a series of preparatory activities addressing different themes: Forestry and carbon, Climate hot spots, Food systems, Ocean, Hydrology, Polar regions.

Wednesday, 13.10.2021

ESA Virtual Labs

This session will explore the latest advancements in collaborative Earth system science research, offered by the combination of Open data, Open Tools and Virtual Laboratories. You will learn about the what scientific results have been achieved, the new functionalities that are available, as well as the future pathways and trends in the development of Open Innovation tools.

Wednesday, 13.10.2021

Network of Resources

The ESA Network of Resource Initiative promotes the use of cloud services for users who wish to work with EO data. In this session many of the Platform Service providers in the NoR community will describe what services they have available that can benefit Research, Development and Commercial users.

Wednesday, 13.10.2021

New Space European Access to Space

Access to space has always been a key European strategic objective. With New Space, changing and also new requirements appear in view of a very fast evolving and competitive market, the global composition of New Space companies or the evolution towards constellations with a larger number of often small satellites. In this session we will provide an overview and you will also learn about European access to space technology, with focus on access to space projects to support New Space for Earth Observation systems.

Wednesday, 13.10.2021

Enabling EO Platforms

This session will provide the status and future plans - including availability of AI capabilities - of several key platforms that are providing operational services on top of cloud infrastructures to the community. Aim is to accelerate science and value adding processes delegating the "heavy lifting" to experts in managing scalable processing environments and to allow the community to share the results.

Wednesday, 13.10.2021

Accelerating New Space Uptake

An increasing number of European SmallSat developers/operators use private sector investment to develop, launch and operate dedicated EO satellites to deliver focused commercial services to clearly defined customer groups. However, in many cases the data from these systems are also of potential interest to stakeholders that cannot be effectively engaged in the short term or which may not be addressable under conventional business models. ESA has already set up some projects to test whether ESA-funded actions to specify demonstration exercises can accelerate wider uptake among such customers of the data and services provided by the NewSpace operators. This leads to increased commercial revenue streams and a more attractive investment proposition for future financing rounds. The scope of this session is to investigate with the key players if and how this model can be expanded and what other actors would need to be engaged.

Europe is leading a sensing revolution in space through the Copernicus initiative, and the corresponding development of a family of Sentinel missions, enabling global monitoring of our planet across the whole electromagnetic spectrum on am operational and sustained basis over the coming decades. In addition, "New Space" is now rapidly emerging through the increasing commoditization and commercialization of space delivering huge amount of data at high resolution in space and time.

These new streams of EO data (e.g. from Copernicus and NewSpace missions) lead to a far more comprehensive picture of our planet. This picture is now even more refined via data from billions of smart and inter-connected sensors referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). These new global data on our planet offer new possibilities for scientists to advance our understanding of interactions between oceans, atmosphere, land, cryosphere and how they operate as part of an integrated Earth System. It also represents new opportunities for entrepreneurs to turn big data into new types of information services. However, these opportunities come with new challenges for scientists, business, data and software providers to make sense of the vast and diverse amount of data by capitalizing on new technologies such as big data analytics.

Due to the rapid increase in the volume and variety of EO data sources, AI techniques become increasingly needed to analyse the data in an automatic, flexible and scalable way to accelerate “insight” into the data. We believe AI has a huge, but still largely untapped potential for EO. The intersection of AI and EO remains an emergent field, but a rapidly growing one. There has been a lot of work on ML applied to EO over the past decade, but with the rapid emergence of Deep Learning, novel AI techniques, and Quantum Computing, the field has been growing rapidly. Some themes of interest:

  • Deep Learning (e.g. architectures, generative models)
  • Explainable AI (e.g. robustness, interpretability, causality)
  • Novel AI techniques (e.g. active / federated / reinforcement / self- learning)
  • Domain adaptation and generalization
  • Natural language processing and Visual AI
  • Hybrid model for physics-aware AI
  • HPC-based and distributed machine learning for large-scale image analysis
  • Quantum computing Machine Learning
  • AI software stack for Digital Twin Earth
  • AI at the edge

Thursday, 14.10.2021


Multi-variate EO data, in situ observations and advanced models are key sources of new knowledge and insights on poorly known processes and complex interactions across the Earth system components. Currently, a number of Machine Learning applications have proved to be successful in various areas of Earth System Sciences. However, due to the complexity of problems in geosciences, neither data-only nor physics-only approaches can provide sufficient representation of the processes. The unique challenges in Earth System Science are rarely found in traditional applications, and requiring novel problem formulations and methodologies in Machine Learning (ML).

Recent ML/AI advances offer a huge potential to contribute to answering grand scientific questions and can play a major role in accelerating knowledge discovery by automatically learning patterns and models from the data, while taking into account the wealth of knowledge accumulated in physics-based model representations of geoscience processes.

In this session we explore how data intensive multi-variate processing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) enable global inferences of physical drivers quantified from Earth Observations

We will discuss with experts in AI and Data systems to learn more about how NASA addresses AI for Big Earth System Science, we will have a look at how Microsoft relies on AI and technological advances to support sustainable science, and we will dwelve into specifical scientific cases addressed by academia and research institutes such as University of Valencia or the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre.

Thursday, 14.10.2021

Quantum Computing for EO - QC4EO

Recent advances in Quantum Computing have the potential of revolutionising information processing and tackling yet unsolved technological and scientific problems. EO needs this unprecedented power to face current challenges in processing of SAR, multispectral, hyperspectral, and Earth measurement data. The Quantum Computing for Earth Observation (QC4EO) session aims to explore and discuss the potentiality of QC4EO and do the inventory of the first works and activities in the field.

ESA introduced a new category of smallsat research missions, called SCOUTs, to respond to quickly evolving scientific and technological needs in Earth Observation. SCOUT missions aim to achieve valuable science/application return within strict boundaries (notably 3 years from KO to launch). This session will present the current SCOUT missions under implementation as well as the other missions selected for the consolidation phase. It will focus on the framework, the science return, and the key benefits. ESA's New Space approach and its lean implementation jointly with industry and academia will also be addressed. The session will be concluded by a round table to share lessons learnt and trigger further interest by the community.