“The First 25 Years: Genesis and Evolution of ISSI” Pro ISSI Talk with Prof. em. Rudolf von Steiger 

More than three decades ago the late Johannes Geiss started to think about creating a new kind of institute where the space science community could work together. It would be tasked with contributing to a deeper understanding of the results from space research missions, adding value to those results through multi-disciplinary research in an atmosphere of international cooperation. By using his characteristic enthusiasm and perseverance he managed, together with a small group of Swiss colleagues and against all odds, that ISSI could open its doors in 1995 with a workshop on The Heliosphere in the Local Interstellar Medium.

The early years of ISSI were marked by steady growth, but also by threats that potentially endangered its very existence. Thanks to skillful politics and a growing standing in the community these could be fenced off, so when Johannes Geiss stepped down after eight years the growth continued to reach the current level of nearly a thousand visitors per year. Thanks to this strength it was possible to survive the years of pandemic nearly unharmed, so 26 years later a second workshop on the heliosphere could be convened, highlighting the tremendous progress that had been achieved in the field.

Using the two workshops as a bracket Rudolf von Steiger reviews the genesis and evolution of ISSI, highlighting a few events, results, and reminiscences here and there, and end with a subjective view of what it was that made ISSI a success.


Pro ISSI Talk was recorded on 2nd November 2022