Photo exhibition highlights imperative to protect near-space

on 10 October 2022
The SKA Observatory is supporting a photography exhibition that demonstrates the vulnerability of near-space and the urgent need for its sustainable use.

Called “Our Fragile Space”, the collection of artistic photography, reportage, and portraiture opened in London on 6 October 2022 to coincide with the United Nations' World Space Week. International photographer and science communicator Max Alexander created the series.

“Through beautiful images and compelling stories, this exhibition expertly captures the current challenge of space sustainability,” said the SKAO’s Spectrum Manager, Federico Di Vruno, who attended the launch at Lloyd’s. Di Vruno also serves as co-director of the International Astronomical Union’s Centre for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (CPS), another sponsor of “Our Fragile Space”. The CPS – hosted by the SKAO and the US centre for ground-based optical astronomy, NSF’s NOIRLab – works towards the sustainable co-existence of astronomy and mega-satellite constellations in near-space.

“Max Alexander highlights the topic of space debris as well as its effects on the night sky and astronomy, the area that the SKAO and the CPS actively work in,” Di Vruno added. “We find ourselves at an inflexion point with respect to space sustainability and public awareness is therefore much needed. ‘Our Fragile Space’ helps achieve that.”

Alexander said given the dramatic growth in satellite numbers, he wanted “to contribute to the understanding of what is happening in our near-space environment, including the potential loss of the night sky for humanity”.

Lloyd’s pass holders and their registered guests can access the exhibition until 21 October during the insurance marketplace’s usual opening hours. Others can book for a private viewing on 10, 14, 17 and 21 October.

The collection will then go on tour internationally, culminating in an exhibition at the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Conference in 2025.

Lloyds Our Fragile Space exhibition
Guests admire "Our Fragile Space", an exhibition highlighting the vulnerability of the near-space environment, on its opening night at Lloyd's in London. Credit: Jason Alden/Lloyd’s