ESA has created a space-inspired virtual environment to enable its workforce to experience the COP27 climate summit – which is being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt – without the environmental cost of travelling.

This metaverse showcase – connected over the internet and satellite-enabled 5G – provides another demonstration of the potential of next-generation communications, showing how the resilient, ubiquitous, and seamless connectivity delivered by converged networks could transform virtual collaboration.  

Elodie Viau, ESA's Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, experiences ESA's metaverse
Elodie Viau, ESA’s Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, experiences ESA’s metaverse

Alongside COP27, ESA developed the digital environment to allow the agency to come together virtually, to take part in discussions about the use of space for tackling the climate crisis.

This digital installation – created as part of the 5G/6G Strategic Programme Line of ESA’s Directorate of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications – incorporates bespoke virtual environments for networking and exhibits that feature the latest sustainable innovations, along with live streams of on-site reporting from Egypt.

Inside ESA's COP27 metaverse
Inside ESA’s COP27 metaverse

During the conference, hundreds of ESA staff across its European sites immersed themselves in the digital environment. They accessed the metaverse on their laptops or smartphones, or by wearing virtual reality headsets, which were connected over the internet and by satellite 5G.

Engineers at ESA’s 5G/6G Hub – which is located at the agency’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications in the UK – connected people to the metaverse using its next-generation technologies.

Set up of the 5G/6G Hub experiment
Set up of the 5G/6G Hub experiment

In this demonstration’s first scenario, a direct connection was established between the headset and ESA’s metaverse showcase using the ESA 5G/6G Hub’s private terrestrial 5G network. Next, the connection was rerouted via a satellite, demonstrating the integration of communications networks on the ground and in space.

The combination of the private 5G network and the satellite network worked seamlessly to provide continuous connectivity with the virtual environment.

The metaverse showcase forms part of ESA’s efforts to promote European leadership in the development and deployment of next-generation connectivity.

ESA's sites use a metaverse to experience COP27
ESA’s sites use a metaverse to experience COP27

Since its launch in February this year, ESA’s 5G/6G Hub has been accelerating the 5G digital transformation by enabling businesses to test and develop innovative technologies in a future telecommunications environment.

The Hub is open to companies from across the European economy, including key industries relying on resilient communication networks such as energy, healthcare and transport.

  • ESA also photos