The University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne were elected as new members of the prestigious Universities Space Research Association, a nonprofit research corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology and engineering.

The University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) were selected to join the ranks of the leading universities worldwide involved in space research. Their inclusion was announced on 29 March 2018 at the annual meeting of the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) in Washington, D.C. The selection criteria for USRA membership are rigorous. To qualify, universities must be doctorate-granting institutions with demonstrated expertise in the fields of space science or aerospace research and engineering.

Key players in international space science

According to USRA, the University of Bern was selected due to its role as a major provider of technical instruments for European planetary missions to Mars and Jupiter, and for the comet mission Rosetta. Bern’s Astronomy Institute was also noted for its astrometric observations of asteroids, comets, and supernova remnant, while the Center for Space and Habitability was acknowledged for its interdisciplinary studies on the definition of life and our search for it in the universe.

EPFL was selected for its outstanding contribution to space science. As home to the Swiss Space Center, the university supports fellow academic institutions, research organizations, and companies in space related activities. It is involved in a wide variety of space missions and oversees the implementation of Swiss space policy. EPFL’s faculty includes Claude Nicollier, a Swiss astronaut who flew on four U.S. Space Shuttle missions, including the first and third servicing missions to the Hubble Space Telescope.

The latest additions bring USRA to a total of 110 universities. Founded in 1969 under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the association employs in-house talent and university-based expertise to advance space science and technology.