Florian Kehl – the “5 Premium Speakers Questions”

13. June 2023 – Mandy Weinand

Space scientist and astrobiologist Dr. Florian Kehl worked as a technologist at and with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for nearly seven years. In 2021, he returned to Switzerland as a Senior Scientist at the University of Zurich’s Space Hub and as a lecturer at the Space Biology Group at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Since then, he has continued to work remotely for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and has been involved in several NASA and ESA projects as well as other funding agencies.

Florian Kehl in interview:

1. What are the core subjects of your keynote speeches?

Florian Kehl:

  • Space Research: Robotic Exploration of the Solar System
  • Search for Extraterrestrial Life
  • Ocean Worlds (the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn)
  • Mars Exploration (Rover)
  • Moon, Space Race 2.0
  • In-Situ Resource Utilization
  • “Analog Research” (Simulated Space Missions in the Atacama Desert or the Arctic.

2. Which audience or which branch do you reach with your speech?

Florian Kehl:

Adventurers, dreamers, curious laypeople (including children), experts, space enthusiasts, visionaries, out-of-the-box thinkers.

3. Are you a PREMIUM SPEAKER? Where do you get your insights from?

Florian Kehl:

I’m a Space Scientist at the University of Zurich and a Lecturer at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences. I used to work at and with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for almost 7 years. I invent, design, and develop scientific instruments for the search of extraterrestrial life on future planetary missions to Mars, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, or other celestial bodies. I’ve been fascinated by space and its robotic exploration since my early childhood when I gave presentations about Mars rovers in elementary school.

As a prototype developer, I have had the chance to partake in several simulated Mars missions in the Atacama Desert in Chile, where we tested our remotely-controlled instruments on a rover. On another field trip to the Arctic, we evaluated our underwater robots, equipped with sampling and sensing platforms, in the icy ocean. Every morning, we drove several kilometers over the open sea ice with our snowmobiles, where we then released our robotic explorers, while armed locals protected us from roaming polar bears.

My captivating, animated, and highly illustrated presentations take the audience on a adventurous ride through the solar system and how we and the scientific community want to find E.T. in the coming decades.

4. What will be in the future? Does «time» play an important role in your work?

Florian Kehl:

In the coming decades, space exploration, space resource utilization, and the search for extraterrestrial life hold tremendous importance. Space exploration not only expands our knowledge of the universe but also stimulates technological advancements that have practical applications on Earth.

It fosters innovation in areas such as materials science, communication, and robotics, driving economic growth and improving our daily lives. Additionally, space resource utilization has the potential to alleviate resource scarcity on Earth by tapping into the vast mineral and energy resources present in space. This could lead to sustainable development and reduce the strain on our planet’s limited resources. Furthermore, the search for extraterrestrial life fuels our curiosity about the origins and diversity of life in the universe.

The discovery of even microbial life beyond Earth would revolutionize our understanding of biology and provide insights into the possibility of life’s existence elsewhere. Overall, these endeavors inspire us to explore new frontiers, spur scientific and technological progress, and shape a better future for humanity.

5. Tell us your life motto? What do you want to give your listeners to take with them?

Florian Kehl:

Dream Big!

Dr. Florian Kehl

ESA - Space Scientist, Astrobiologist, Lecturer, Inventor, Explorer, former NASA employee