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Distinguished guests at the VIP event 50 years of space exploration

On September 11, around 140 invited guests celebrated the 50th anniversary of space research at the University of Bern. Among the attendees were Dr. Mauro Dell’ Ambrogio, State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, Renato Krpoun, Head of the Swiss Space Office, and many former employees.

Dr. Mauro Dell’ Ambrogio praised the pioneering role played by Bernese scientists: “The University of Berne plays an important role in space research.”

Feierten 50 Jahre Weltraumforschung an der Universität Bern (von links): Prof. Dr. Peter Wurz, Prof. Dr. Christian Leumann, Staatssekretär Dr. Mauro Dell’Ambrogio (mit originaler Apollo-11-Folie), Renato Krpoun, SSO, Prof. Dr. Willy Benz, Prof. Dr. Daniel Candinas und Prof. Dr. Nicolas Thomas.

In his presentation, Prof. Dr. Wurz then presented an overview of the 50-year history of space exploration at the University of Berne, which began on 27th October 1967 with a test flight of the Zenit sounding rocket. Wurz talked then about the Bernese sun sail, the Solar Wind Collector Experiment (SWC), which flew with Apollo to the moon and later went on missions such as Ulysses and SOHO. Wurz showd that physicists from Bern also developed into mass spectrometer experts.

A highlight in this respect was the Rosetta mission. In addition to the mass spectrometers, high-resolution cameras and other instruments were developed that went to Mars and Venus. The Bernese laser altimeter BELA and the mass spectrometer STROFIO will soon be set off for Mercury on BepiColombo. A trip to Jupiter with further Bernese experiments is planned for 2022 with the JUICE mission.

Prof. Nicolas Thomas reported on the current Bernese camera CaSSIS on board the ExoMars mission. As head of the team that developed and built the instrument, he showed how the camera will send high-resolution 3D images of the red planet to Earth in the near future. Finally, Prof. Willy Benz spoke about the CHEOPS mission, a space telescope that will examine exoplanets. CHEOPS is the first ESA mission under Swiss lead.

The welcome notes and speeches can be viewed in the podcast.

After the presentations, the guests were able to view the impressive exhibition of original instruments and historically unique exhibits at the aperitif. For example, a piece of the foil that was brought back from the moon with Apollo 11 could be seen. Further experiments such as COLLISA, which was on board the space station MIR, the structural model of the CHEOPS space telescope and various prototypes of mass spectrometers provided exciting topics for the guests to talk about.


Have a look at the gallery with pictures from the VIP event:


See a part of the instruments that were on display at the special exhibition:


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