Press Releases

    UNIS/OS/251
    5 September 2002

    UNITED NATIONS/EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY WORKSHOP
    ON BASIC SPACE SCIENCE IN CORDOBA,
    ARGENTINA, 9 – 13 September 2002

    VIENNA, 5 September (UN Information Service) -- The workshop will aim at strengthening basic space science worldwide 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 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 United Nations has long recognised that the scientific, economic, and social progress of all nations is inter-related, and has accordingly emphasised the importance of international cooperation. In accordance with a specific action plan identified by the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III), and as part of its strategy for promoting international cooperation in space-related activities with a view to increased knowledge and capacity-building, particularly in developing countries, UNISPACE III called for continuation of the successful series of the annual UN/ESA workshops on basic space science started in 1991.

    This year, the eleventh UN/ESA Workshop on Basic Space Science will be hosted by the National University of Cordoba, the Space Agency of Argentina, and the National University of La Plata in Cordoba, Argentina. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs will be organising the Workshop in cooperation with the European Space Agency and the Government of Argentina.

    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 its origins and its place in the vast universe. At present, many developing countries are unable to reach their full potential in astronomy due to a lack of access to modern astronomical facilities and information.

    The universe is being digitised by ground-based and space-borne astronomical observatories at an unprecedented rate, a fact that presents opportunities and challenges in seemingly equal measure. The advent of the Virtual Observatory concept signals a paradigm shift in the way astronomy will be done worldwide in the era of information abundance and ubiquitous networking. Small telescopes, among them those in developing nations, will be playing a number of essential roles in this new research environment, probably contributing a reasonable portion of all data taken in astronomy, both as surveying instruments, and as follow-up facilities. Workshop sessions will explore the Virtual Observatory concept and its background, and how small telescopes will fit in this emergent way of doing astronomy in the 21st century.

    A great variety of complex phenomena in diverse fields like astronomy, physics, ecology, and economics, exhibit power-law behaviour, which in one way or another reflects some kind of hierarchical or fractal structure. Such laws are of great interest to students of "plectics", the study of simplicity and complexity. Many of the phenomena involved seem to be susceptible to description using approaches resembling those employed in statistical mechanics and thermodynamics. Brazil’s and Argentina’s research communities are spearheading these new developments in fundamental science. The Workshop will review recent results in this field, particularly leading contributions made by researchers from developing nations.

    The venue for the Workshop will be Argentina's Teofilo Tabanera Space Center, a facility of the National Commission on Space Activities in the Province of Cordoba. Argentina has a long history of space research, which started more than a century ago, with the foundation of the Cordoba Observatory in 1871 and the La Plata Observatory in 1883. Respectively, these two institutions belong to the National University of Cordoba and the National University of La Plata, which also have their own School of Astronomy. The enthusiasm for space research lead to the opening in 1960 of the San Juan Observatory, the Radioastronomy Institute (IAR) and the Institute of Astronomy and Space Physics (IAFE), and in 1985, a national facility center, the Complejo Astronomico "El Leoncito" (CASLEO) was created in the Andean region at an altitude of 2500 meters, where a 2.15 meters telescope was installed. This area was declared as an astronomical reserve.

    As a result of the achievements of Argentine researchers in space investigation, Argentina is now a part in significant international programmes, such as the Gemini and Auger projects. Indeed the Auger observatory is being installed on Argentine territory.

    1992 has brought about the creation of the National Commission on Space Activities (CONAE), opening new possibilities of performing studies aimed at the use and exploration of outer space. The Argentine scientific community devoted to space science consists of over 400 scientists who perform studies in fields such as stellar astrophysics, extragalactic astronomy, celestial mechanics, solar physics, applied geophysics, photometry, galactic structure, and astrometry, among others, using national and international facilities.

    Speakers from the following nations were invited to contribute to the Workshop: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Germany, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and USA.

    For more information on the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs please visit

    www.oosa.unvienna.org

    * *** *