21 mei 2024

Report from the 63rd International Astronautical Congress in Naples

Daniela de Paulis is gastcolumniste van de Astroblogs. Zij is een Italiaanse artiest, die onder andere het Moonbounce-project heeft ontwikkeld, dat uitgevoerd wordt met de 25 meter radiotelescoop van Dwingeloo. Hierover heeft zij op het afgelopen 63e International Astronautical Congress in Napels een presentatie gehouden. Hieronder een verslag van haar belevenissen in Napels. Daniela, bedankt hiervoor!

the venue of the congress

Just got back from the overwhelming 63rd International Astronautical Congress in Naples, it was truly an experience and would recommend it to anybody with a passion for flight, space travel and the future. During the five days symposium the outside world seems to disappear in the technology of flight wonderland. The programme is so intense that on your way back you will need a couple of days to make sense of all you have learned and seen during the congress. First of all it is an amazing opportunity for networking and meeting likeminded people, no matter which area of space flight you work in, whether engineering, SETI or culture. The congress is nomadic, it is held every year in a different town and next year it will be hosted in Beijing. On my way back to The Netherlands, I had tens of cards from new contacts and friends and many new projects in mind. I participated in the congress as an artist with a passion for radio astronomy and cosmic art, I also made a presentation about my collaboration with the CAMRAS team of radio amateurs at Dwingeloo radio telescope for a project called OPTICKS.

The SETI meeting

After the IAC opening ceremony, featuring performances and short films screening, paying a tribute to Italian engineer Luigi Napolitano, former president of the International Astronautical Federation, the marathon from one lecture room to the next started. People from all around the world attended, it was amazing seeing so many nationalities all gathered together under the umbrella of Astronautics. Due to the busy schedule, it was necessary selecting the areas of interest out of the many featured in the programme. My choice went for the SETI and Society symposium. ‘Seeking intelligence far beyond our own’ was the encouraging title of the opening presentation by current SETI director, Prof. Seth Shostak.

That’s me (left), with Mike Garrett (director of ASTRON), Mirian Janssen (ASTRON too), Thilina Heenatigala (project manager for Astronomers Without Borders).

What I find especially interesting about people working for SETI, apart from their cutting edge philosophy, is the sense of humour that pervades their work and the truly including approach to Science. Many of the lectures during this panel examined the rather difficult task of receiving a radio signal from outer space that might point to extraterrestrial intelligence. Until now none of these signals has been received, nevertheless SETI keeps searching, knowing that, should this happen, humankind needs to be prepared. Especially interesting was the presentation by Prof. Douglas Vakoch, Director of Interstellar Message Composition (what a nice job!). Dr. Vakoch is especially interested in the history and future use of interstellar message transmission, during his lecture he provided some great insights into the history of communication with a possible extraterrestrial life.

Sign from the Dutch stall on the IAC

After the inspiring SETI symposium we all went to the restaurant and enjoyed the company of people who made the history of SETI, radio astronomers, astrophysicists and people with a passion for space. Prof. Michael Garrett, the director of ASTRON, was also there. A SETI programme in The Netherlands in a near future? Let’s hope so, a far reaching scientific programme cannot avoid anymore asking the biggest questions. On the following day I attended the ‘Space as an Artistic Medium’ session, where my presentation took place. International artists and designers showcased their work, I was proud to be part of such a great group! Dr. Yvonne Clearwater, a former NASA designer, made a very interesting presentation about the past, present and future of NASA Art programme. Space Architecture, Space and Music were only some of the fascinating topics connecting Art and Space culture.

The final dinner

During my last day at IAC I took some time to wander around the many stalls filled with information and exhibits about current technological research on satellites and space. A cheerful toast with nice wines accompanied thorough conversations on science and business. I stopped by the Dutch Space booth and took some pictures of their products, talking with a gentleman who noticed my enthusiastic admiration for the stereoscopic camera display. He explained that the camera has been engineered in Holland and is used by astronauts on board of the ISS to make 3D recordings. Some 3D films were shown at the Dutch Space booth, I wore some special glasses and enjoyed the feeling of being part of the ISS crew.Before the congress was over I had to leave for Amsterdam, missing with my great regret the press conference with Buzz Aldrin, a tribute to Neil Armstrong. Will I ever get the chance to meet Buzz Aldrin again? I hope so! My plan to travel to Beijing next year for the 64th International Astronautical Congress has started, I’ll see you there!



  1. Daniela, congratulations with your first (and hopefully not only) contribution to the Astroblogs! Great story about the happenings in Naples and the things you were involved into. Sort of SpaceUp Europe times thousand, I think. 🙂 So, next year in Bejing? Mmmm, have to think about that (wishes versus pocketmoney, you know the drill ). Ehh… Daniela, regarding that SETI-project, you say “Until now none of these signals has been received”. Haven’t they told you about the WOW-signal? See http://www.astroblogs.nl/2012/02/25/35-jaar-na-dato-was-het-wow-signaal-van-buitenaardse-oorsprong/ for a blog about that. OK, thanx for the blog and hope to see you soon!

  2. Olaf van Kooten zegt

    Daniela welcome to the club and thank you for this great story!

  3. Danielaaaaaaaaaa,

    You know what, I am almost flippin short for words….(a condition as you know seldom happens to me…ha..ha..!!)….. expressing my hapiness seeing your first and wonderful “astroblog” appearing on Astroblogs!!! I have already seen “some interesting stuff of yours” on facebook….and..ah…Through your eyes, the eyes of a space infatuated artist acting as our “human telescope”, you are giving us a chance to observe an artistic universe where no “astroblogger has yet gone before”….and therefore the “verdict” is:..more where that came from ..and….six mighty bright blue supergiant stars for you, Girl…!!!

  4. Jan the astroman zegt

    Yep…me name is Janus Zeikspier…and I ‘d better not translate that in english…ha..ha…!!!

Speak Your Mind