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    Press Release No: UNIS/OS/220
    Release Date:  21 June 2000
    UN/ESA Workshop on Basic Space Science 
    To be Held in Toulouse, France, 27-30 June

     VIENNA, 20 June (UN Information Service) – The benefits of space science to society, new observations of space from a World Space Observatory, in-situ and remote exploration of the solar system, and the benefits of and necessity for networks of telescopes will be the major topics for discussion this year at the ninth United Nations/European Space Agency Workshop on Basic Space Science.  The workshop will be hosted by the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, France, from June 27 to 30.  The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs will be organizing the Workshop in cooperation with the European Space Agency and the Government of France.

     The United Nations has long recognized that the scientific, economic, and social progress of all countries are inter-related, and has accordingly emphasized the importance of international cooperation.  Pursuant to recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III), which was held in Vienna from 19 to 30 July 1999, the General Assembly recently adopted resolution 54/68, which also called for the continuation of the series of UN/ESA workshops on basic space science.  The past and growing success of the workshops have contributed to the furtherance of the initial mandate to promote international cooperation in space-related activities, and to encourage and facilitate the study and application of basic space science in developing countries.

     The cultural appeal of basic space science has progressively worked to drive the face-paced and necessary implementation of new technologies and space applications required for sustainable development.  The UN/ESA workshops seek to maintain interest and momentum in this new direction through helping to establish active facilities in developing countries and following up on projects.   For example, the basic principle behind the World Space Observatory (WSO/UV) is that nations could share the benefits of a satellite observatory in a context that extends beyond the normal planning of the major space agencies.  This new approach represents a unique opportunity to allow all nations to share the drive for progress in space activities at a level that allows for equal competition. 

     The creation of the workshops also resulted from the recognition that technological innovations and scientific knowledge, including breakthroughs in space science play a crucial role in providing practical solutions to problems of development in general.  Astronomy has intrigued virtually every human culture because it represents a medium through which mankind can better understand his origins and his place in the vast Universe.  At present, many developing countries are unable to reach their full potential in astronomy and planetary exploration due to a lack of access to modern astronomical facilities and information. 

     The workshop seeks to strengthen basic space science world wide by providing a forum to highlight recent scientific breakthroughs made in space science; fostering scientific collaboration and cooperation among nations; exploring the avenues of education, training, and research in basic space science for the benefit of developing countries; identifying ways and means through which nations can develop facilities and capacities to participate in basic space science research and education; and creating core groups of scientists to pursue the objectives of the workshop.

     The UN/ESA workshops have resulted in the implementation of various follow-up projects in developing countries, particularly the establishment of astronomical telescope facilities, also supported by the Government of Japan, in Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, Jordan, Morocco, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Uruguay, and Sri Lanka. Networking these and similar facilities in terms of research and education programmes will be a focal point of the deliberations of the workshop. 

     Previous workshops have been held in India (1991) and Sri Lanka (1995) for Asia and the Pacific, Costa Rica (1992) and Honduras (1997) for Central America, Colombia (1992) for South America, Nigeria (1993) for Africa, Egypt (1994) and Jordan (1999) for Western Asia, and Germany (1996) for Europe.

     Speakers from the following countries were invited to contribute to the Workshop: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam, and Yemen. 

     Co-organizers of the Workshop include The Austrian Space Agency (ASA), The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), The European Space Agency (ESA), The French Space Agency (CNES), The German Space Agency (DLR), The International Astronomical Union (IAU), The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States, the Planetary Society (TPS), and the United Nations (UN).

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