Christer Fuglesang is a Swedish physicist and ESA astronaut. He was the first Swedish citizen to fly in space, taking part in two missions aboard the NASA Space Shuttle. During these missions, he performed five spacewalks. As a graduate student, he worked at the European Research Centre on Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva on the UA5 experiment studying proton–antiproton collisions, rising to become a Senior Fellow and head of the particle identification subdetector. In May 1992, he joined the ESA Astronaut Corps based at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany. Part of his training was conducted at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC) in Star City, Russia, as part of the ESA–Russian collaboration on the Mir space station. He is currently seconded to the Swedish KTH Royal Institute of Technology in the Department of Physics and the Department of Aeronautical and Vehicle Engineering teaching particle physics and human spaceflight.
Fuglesang talks to Sabinije Von Gaffke about the need for understanding the near earth asteroid population through an acceleration of our detection programmes. In this way, we can identify any asteroids that could pose a hazard to Earth and deflect them before they become a problem. He believes that programmes like Asteroid Day can help people understand near-Earth asteroids and that relatively small amounts of government money are all that is needed to ensure the planet remains safe. Another challenge for humankind comes from climate change, and so he explains that the current focus of his work is to investigate whether space-based ‘sunshields’ might help reduce the amount of solar energy reaching our planet.