Space on tour: Europe’s travelling expo

Having already made its way through most major European cities, the European Space Expo has finally arrived in Athens and is prepared to inform young visitors of the importance of Europe’s space industry in the region.

Athens, Greece – On Saturday the 28th of March, the European Space Expo (ESE) set up its white dome tent in Athens’ Syntagma Square, where it will remain until Easter Sunday.

Operated by the European Commission (EC), the free exhibit emphasizes the ways in which EU citizens can benefit from Europe’s space programs via hourly presentations and interactive videos. Language and content of the material put forth to visitors are modified according to the current location of the exhibit.

Galileo and Copernicus are the space programs being showcased at the event, with the former presenting key information on satellite navigation and the latter offering material in regard to Earth observation.

The ESE as it stands in Syntagma Square and will remain until 5 April
The ESE as it stands in Syntagma Square and will remain until 5 April

Amidst the ongoing crisis, it seems as though the Greek population has bigger priorities to concern itself with than learning about what the space industry can provide. However, the ESE has high hopes for itself and what it can offer Greece.

“Our aim is to present both space programs so that we can bring news to the general public of what is happening,” says Local Organizer, Nikolaos Perrakis, “It is not always easy for everyone to understand what space applications are all about.”

According to the EC website, the ESE strives to show citizens how European Space policy and space-based technologies are relevant to our everyday lives on earth, and also “their importance for the European economy and job creation,” subjects which are of great concern in present-day Greece.

“In recent years, there have been attempts to increase interest in the Greek space and technology markets,” says Nancy Angelopoulos, a young volunteer at the ESE. According to Angelopoulos, the ESE is trying to create new possibilities for students in Greece who want to advance their career, as brain drain is an ongoing issue.

Perrakis agrees that the ESE can be particularly beneficial to the Greek youth, claiming that the exhibit has the potential to motivate young people to learn more about the space industry and perhaps even pursue a career toward it.

According to Perrakis, young people also benefit from understanding how the space programs work because it is present in the everyday lives of youth, even when they are unaware of it:

“For instance, your cell phone does not use magic to ascertain where you are. There is a process involved: The European phones on land are meeting a signal, and that signal is being received by a chip engraved into the system, and satellites translate that signal into your current location.”

Although the ESE has made multiple appearances in certain European cities in the past, this year marks the first time the exhibit has been on display in Athens. However, business is not expected to slow down.

“[The tour] has been very successful so far,” states Perrakis, “The ESE has visited many countries and there has been broad participation in most of the locations.” Indeed, with over 550,000 citizens across the EU having visited the exhibit, the Expo has experienced record attendances throughout its tour.

Athanasios Potsis from the Hellenic Space Industry - One of the several presenters at the exhibit
Athanasios Potsis from the Hellenic Space Industry – One of the several presenters at the exhibit

In addition to the several interactive video stands, notable features on display at the exhibit include an interactive hologram of the earth’s atmosphere labeled the ‘OmniGlobe’, and a prominent model of the ‘Galileo’ satellite.

“With all of the effort put into this, we try to maintain young people’s interest, not only in the space industry, but in Greek markets in general,” explains Angelopoulos, “There are a few other Greek domains that have grown in the last few years, but I think space and technology is relevant enough to spark an interest in our youth.”