Outcomes of the 2021 Big Data from Space Conference

The 5th edition of the Big Data from Space Conference (jointly organized by ESA, SatCen and JRC) was held online from 18 to 20 May 2021. This year’s conference, supported by ROSA (Romanian Space Agency) and originally planned to be hosted by UPB (Polytechnic University of Bucharest), had more than 800 registered participants interested in discussing the exploitation of data from Space assets, with an emphasis on Earth Observation, in response to current scientific, technological and societal challenges.

The 2021 edition explored the insights that can be retrieved from Big Data from Space and their exploitation for foresight. This comes at a time when the world, especially the European Union, is showing an increased interest in space for the safety, security and health of our planet and citizens.

A series of institutional talks were delivered by ESA, SatCen, and JRC as part of the Opening Ceremony to the conference. In his opening speech, SatCen Director Sorin Ducaru highlighted the current challenges in the Space and Security domain, underlining the added value provided by Big Data and new technologies both in monitoring present issues and preparing for predicting future ones. Ambassador Ducaru emphasized the key role that cooperation activities play in the Space and Security domain, and the efforts made by the SatCen RTDI Unit to increase R&I capacities in support of operations. “I do believe that the three days in front of us will bring new perspectives to advance towards the enhancement of European capabilities in the Space domain, specifically in those areas supporting the safety and security of the European Union”, he stated.


Amongst the topics discussed by experts were those of Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence for Modelling, Big Data Processing, Data Management, and Platforms & Architectures. Apart from co-organising the event, the SatCen RTDI staff contributed with two key presentations and moderated a couple of sessions.

First, a presentation on “Exploring the Climate-Security nexus with Spaceborne Data” was given by Sergio Albani, Head of RTDI Unit, where he discussed the link between climate and security, introducing a relevant case study. He also moderated the Special Session where Ms Elodie Viau, ESA TIA Director, gave an interesting speech on the contribution of satellite communications to future communication capacities. As Co-Chair of the Conference, Mr Albani also represented SatCen in the Closing Session remarking that “for SatCen, being one of the three entities organizing BiDS is an honour and it is of paramount importance since it is a unique opportunity to discuss the current global challenges and foster the development of solutions in response to them”.

The second presentation, “A Digital Twin Earth for Security: From Data to Information” was given by Paula Saameño, RTDI Project Manager, where she described the initiatives where SatCen is leveraging the latest data sources, technologies and models to better understand current challenges and predict future ones.

Finally, Michele Lazzarini, RTDI Project Manager, chaired the session on Machine Learning, where relevant actors presented advanced technical concepts that will be applied to develop future applications and services.

You can find the proceedings from the conference here.

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    Image1 of 3Opening speech by SatCen Director Sorin Ducaru at the Big Data from Space 2021 Conference
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    Image2 of 3Paula Saameño, RTDI Project Manager, discussing the Digital Twin Earth Initiative
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    Image3 of 3Sergio Albani, Head of RTDI, and Elodie Viau, ESA TIA Director, moderating the Special Session