Iris (Iride in Italian) is the name of the future Italian satellite constellation for Earth observation. The announcement came from Samantha Cristoforetti, who is taking part in the Minerva mission on the International Space Station, on the occasion of her first media inflight call attended by the Minister for Technological Innovation and Digital Transition Vittorio Colao, the Minister of Education Patrizio Bianchi, the President of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) Giorgio Saccoccia, and the Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency (ESA) David Parker.
The name of the project was chosen from over 1,000 proposals received from 638 schools that took part in the “Spazio alle idee” competition launched by the Department for Digital Transformation with the Ministry of Education and ASI.
“I am very grateful to all the students who took part in this competition. This participation shows the enthusiasm and passion of the new generations towards the space sector,” said the Minister for Technological Innovation and Digital Transition Vittorio Colao.
The proposals were examined by a commission chaired by Samantha Cristoforetti and composed of ESA astronauts Luca Parmitano and Roberto Vittori. The winning schools are from the provinces of Alessandria, Messina, Piacenza and Varese.
“With this competition we asked students not only to choose a name for the future Italian satellite constellation, but also to capture the essence of this great national project,” explained the Minister of Education Patrizio Bianchi.
The Iris satellite constellation is the most important European satellite space programme for low-altitude Earth observation. The project will be implemented in Italy and completed within five years with the support of ESA and ASI thanks to the resources made available by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP). The constellation will help the Civil Protection Department and other Administrations to combat hydrogeological instability and fires, protect coastlines, and monitor critical infrastructure, air quality and weather conditions. The constellation will also provide data for the development of commercial applications by start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and industries in the sector.