Republic of Poland

UPWr graduates received Polish Space Agency awards

January 24, 2020

Joanna Najder and Piotr Bryłka are graduates of geodesy and cartography at the Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy. Prof. Krzysztof Sośnica was the supervisor of Joanna Najder’s work called: „Analysis of prediction quality for the orbits of satellites tracked by SLR stations” which received the 2nd Level Award. The 3rd Level Award went to Piotr Bryłka, for his work entitled: „The use of low-cost GNSS receivers for the purposes of determining tropospheric delay parameters”, and to his supervisor Tomasz Hadaś, PhD (Eng.).

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The competition organized by the Polish Space Agency promotes individual and team achievements of students in the field of space geodesy as well as educational and promotional activities regarding space exploration and exploitation. Due to the subject of her work, Joanna Najder has also been offered to join the ranks of the Polish Space Agency at the National Operation Centre associated with the National Situational Awareness System in Space.

- Space and satellite engineering is a dynamically developing research area at our University. A team of scientists working at the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformatics conducts research financed from such sources as the funds of the European Space Agency, cooperates with the French Space Agency CNES, and its research results are internationally appreciated by the European Space Agency or NASA. The Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformatics is home to the Associated Analytical Centre of the International Laser Ranging Service to Artificial Satellites and the Moon. This means that the Institute has wide access to leading global institutions, and thanks to its willingness to create a well-functioning team, they encourage young students to cooperate by giving them a chance and opportunities for development – that is how Joanna Najder explained her choice of degree programme, and thus also her area of research.

Asked about the challenges that space engineering is facing today, the graduate of UPWr replied: - Earth is our common home, the only known place in the universe where life has developed. Unfortunately, we have recently been observing very disturbing changes in the Earth's system, such as accelerated melting of glaciers in Greenland and rising oceans. It may turn out that, in future, life on Earth will no longer be so comfortable, and may even become impossible due to the misuse of our planet's resources.

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As Najder emphasizes, space engineering on which UPWr focuses allows us to provide high-quality observations, which come from e.g. geodetic observational techniques, and to integrate them in order to better understand and describe global processes affecting humanity, such as earthquakes, volcanism, changes in sea and ocean levels, mass balance of polar covers or changes in the Earth's gravitational and magnetic field.

When asked about what was the most difficult thing when writing the winning work, Joanna Najder replied: - Combining programming skills with knowledge of fundamental aspects of the dynamics of artificial Earth satellites so as to optimize and increase the efficiency of laser ranging stations performing measurements to artificial satellites of Earth and the Moon. Only huge commitment and help of my supervisor, prof. Krzysztof Sośnica made it possible to deal with such a complex subject, for which I am particularly grateful to him.

As the UPWr graduate emphasizes, humanity has already learnt very well how to use the possibilities of exploring the surrounding space. However, it is increasingly worrying that space is heavily littered with inactive satellites and parts of e.g. launch vehicles. – So we should care about clean environment not only on Earth, but also in space – admits Joanna Najder and adds that the conquest of space understood as landing on other celestial objects still remains a huge challenge for humanity.

- Until now, only space agencies of the largest countries had a monopoly on conquering space. Recently, however, private companies have also entered the game. In 2021, a mission is planned to send a laser prism to the moon using an unmanned lunar mission, which will be financed and coordinated by a private company. This will be the largest moon survey since the last Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Later, the Americans intend to send a manned mission, after a 50-year break. As it turns out, the conquest of the Moon is still a huge technological challenge, and the manned conquest of other celestial objects is still beyond the reach of humanity – emphasizes the winner of the 2nd level award in the Polish Space Agency competition.