On October 7, I’ll be giving a talk at The Ohio State University on the geopolitical implications of China’s polar satellites.

I’ve just touched down in Columbus, Ohio – a state which has produced more astronauts per capita than any other state. Fittingly, today (Thursday 7 October 2021), I’ll be giving a talk at The Ohio State University in the Asian Futures program on China’s polar satellites and how they may enable the country to influence Arctic and global governance.

A column engraved with a quote by Senator John Glenn, a native of Cambridge, Ohio and the first American to orbit the Earth, at The Ohio State University. Photo: Mia Bennett

In 2019, China launched its first satellite dedicated to observing the cryosphere, BNU-1 (Ice Pathfinder). In 2022, it will launch synthetic aperture radar satellites to monitor Arctic shipping routes. These technological advances will generate more than just pretty pictures. They will endow China with the ability to increasingly produce, control, and own its own satellite data rather than rely on imagery produced by the US and Europe. This remotely sensed data can be leveraged not only to produce more basic science, but applied science as well. As demand for policies based on science and hard evidence rises, especially in places like the Arctic, countries in control of relevant useful data may find their influence growing. In other words, it is not just territorial sovereignty that matters: data sovereignty does, too.

You can register to watch the talk online here.

The Ohio State University has also produced large amounts of groundbreaking polar, cryospheric, and climate change science in recent decades. The university is home to the Byrd Polar Center, named after the American polar explorer and naval explorer Richard Byrd. On Friday, I’ll be attending the center’s annual symposium on climate change research at OSU, which is also available to join online.

Register here. And, if you’re in Columbus, come say hi at one of the two events!

Categories: Announcements


Speaking about satellites in the land of astronauts

  1. Dear Mia,

    I caught your talk last night (here) zooming in from Denmark, the wonders of modern technology.

    Fascinating and something I was not aware of so learnt a lot. Well done.

    I’m looking forward to getting over to the SPRI at Cambridge very much, once things are normal again.

    Take care and congratulations on your new academic position.

    Best wishes,


    1. Dear Tor,

      Glad to hear you could tune in, and that you learned something to boot. I, too, hope to get over to SPRI again soon!

      Thank you for your kind congratulations as well.

      Best wishes,

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