Jubilee conference looking into space and the future

On April 15 international researchers working on instrumentation and technologies for astronomy, planetary and remote sensing gather at Chalmers for ISSTT 2019, the 30th International Symposium on Space Terahertz Technology. 
– This is a relatively small and highly specialized research field, contributing absolute top-class instruments and research to many other fields, says Victor Belitsky, head of ISSTT’s local organizing committee at Chalmers. 
​This also marks the second time the ISSTT is arranged at Chalmers, who was first to arrange the symposium outside of the US, in 2005. The symposium topics range from instrumentation for miniature “shoe box” satellites and how to probe the trail of water in distant space in search of habitable planets, to the development strategies for the ALMA Observatory in Chile.

– What is perhaps “exotic” for our field is that it covers many areas. It’s rooted in basic physics, we have first-rate engineering of micro components down to Nano levels, as well as practical installations in full scale telescopes – and there are many connections and active feedback from users and researchers. This is also reflected in the wide variety of topics during the conference, says Victor Belitsky. 

Victor is professor and head of the Group for Advanced Receiver Development (GARD) at Chalmers. GARD is part of the division Onsala Space Observatory at the Department of Space, Earth and Environment and the group is responsible for designing and delivering instruments and receiver systems to some of the world’s largest astronomy observatories such as ALMA, APEX and Herschel.

Victor describes the atmosphere at ISSTT to be both informal and productive, mainly since many of over the 130 coming researchers are returning ISSTT participants, willing to share ideas and discoveries. But there are also new researchers coming every year. To encourage young participants the symposium arranges a student competition for the first time this year, to “identify and recognize outstanding technical contributions from individual students”. Five students from the master program in Wireless, Photonics and Space Engineering are also participating in the symposium. 

The five keynote speakers are: 
  • Susanne Aalto, Extragalactic Astronomy, Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers. 
  • Donal Murtagh, Microwave and optical remote sensing, Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers. ​
  • Leonardo Testi, Professor, Head of the ESO ALMA Support Centre
  • Paola Caselli, the Max-Planck-Institute, and Space, Earth and Environment , Chalmers
  • Karl-Friedrich Schuster, Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique
When considering the symposium programme, Victor is most looking forward to the last day of the conference, which focuses on new devices and future developments. But he also knows to expect the unexpected during the ISSTT. 

– The abstracts from our invited speakers look very promising, but I also know that we are in for some surprises, as some of the speakers will present their very latest work, and even works in progress for others to comment. So, I am most looking forward to the surprises! 

Text: Christian Löwhagen.

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Published: Wed 10 Apr 2019.