Researchers at ETH Zurich have long been developing robots for use on the Moon, searching for Earth-like exoplanets and investigating marsquakes on the Red Planet. They research new technology for the space industry and use data from space for climate and security research.
These activities are now to be complemented by a new course of study: a Master’s degree programme in Space Systems. In launching this course, ETH Zurich is fulfilling a long-cherished wish of students, including those who build space rockets and satellites as members of the external pageAriscall_made association. However, the university is also responding to the needs of industry.
The space industry is growing and urgently needs skilled workers. Global investment in the space industry amounts to more than 500 billion dollars and is expected to triple by 2040. Switzerland is home to numerous companies that produce components for the space industry. In addition, new Swiss companies are constantly emerging in this field, including several ETH spin-offs.
Understanding complex space systems
The new Master’s degree programme is an important milestone on the way to taking space science to a higher level at ETH, in Switzerland and in Europe, says Thomas Zurbuchen, former Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at Nasa and now a professor at ETH Zurich. He is Director of the ETH Zurich Space initiative (see box), and was the person behind launch of the new degree programme. “The space industry is in desperate need of people who have an overview of the complex systems involved and understand the interdependencies of subsystems – from the propulsion and navigation of launch systems to scientific experiments.”