BASIC SPACE SCIENCE


(Note:The following recommendations are contained in the United Nations Document A/AC.105/489)

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Bangalore


30 April - 3 May 1991

A. Basic space science


  1. Based on suggestions of the delegates of the workshop, the following areas of research were defined as parts of basic space science:

    • Fundamental physics.
    • Astronomy and astrophysics.
    • Solar-terrestrial interaction and its influence on terrestrial climate.
    • Planetary and atmospheric studies.
    • Origin of life and exo-biology.

  2. It was agreed by the delegates of the workshop that the following techniques would be applicable for pursuing basic space science research:

    • Ground-based optical, and radio observations.
    • Radio and optical telescopes with associated equipment.
    • Remote sensing, both from the ground and from space.
    • In-situ measurements from rocket, ballon and satellite platforms.
    • All measurements from ground-inaccessible windows which can only be made through the use of instruments and telescopes in Earth orbit.
    • Phased radar techniques.



    B. Availability and dissemination of scientific information

    1. Availability of information on major space science projects

  3. The United Nations urges the major space agencies of the world to supply advanced information regarding various projects to scientists in developing countries so that those scientists can involve themselves in follow-up studies.

  4. Considering the very high price of scientific journals and the rise in the exchange rate of hard currencies, the United Nations will strive to investigate the possibility of defining a per capita limit below which institutes in developing countries might benefit from the existing reduced subscription rates of professional and popular journals. Alternative routes to enhance the availability of this critically important information in developing countries should also be investigated.

  5. The United Nations will inquire into, in association with the activities already being carried out by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), European Physical Society (EPS) and American Institute of Physics (AIP), the severe difficulties encountered by researchers in acquiring text books, conference proceedings and other materials needed to maintain forefront scientific research. This could also include contributions sought through discussions with commercial and technological industries.


    2. Data archives and data centres

  6. The United Nations recognises, the importance of the availability on a national level of the existing basic space science data archives for the building up of first rate educational and research capabilities for internationally recognised scientific investigations.

  7. The United Nations therefore urges member States to select through internal (national) discussion, local or regional clearing houses for the highly valuable data archives which are still available at no cost from their producing agencies. The owners should be requested to deliver such data products in a manner conducive to easy dissemination and access at national levels; e.g. the IUE ULDA (International Ultraviolet Explorer Uniform Low Dispersion Archive). These clearing houses (or data centres) will foster development of national basic space science resources and stimulate international collaboration through the existence of common interest centres. These centres will also make highly valued data pertaining to individual countries moreaccessible to other member States and consequently enhance awareness of the capabilities of each country.


    3. Information management system

  8. The United Nations will act to establish an information management centre serving as both a source of information on current activities in basic space science, and as a source of information for those searching for new initiatives in the field to identify and inform interested collaborators in the developing countries.

  9. The United Nations will inquire institutes and researchers into the availability of the above information. This will include the collection of detailed information on bi- and multi-lateral arrangements allowing the exchange of students and researchers both for learning as well as teaching purposes.

  10. Recognising, that a country's level of involvement in the activities in basic space science is invariably associated with existing economic conditions, the United Nations recommends the development of new initiatives originating in developing countries for deeper involvement in basic space science. It recognises, however, that such new initiatives should be accommodated within the individual infrastructural envelope of the country. It will, therefore, strive to explore ways and means through which vital issues for a continued evolution of individual (country) basic space science activities and international cooperation could be maintained and stimulated.


    4. Electronic communication network

  11. The United Nations recognises that the rapid pace of change in basic space science and technology makes the free and efficient flow of ideas and concepts a prime need for participation in basic space science, and therefore, urges member States to plan and implement local electronic communication at or above the level of e-mail networks. Once implemented, or even before the existence of a local (national) network, an internet/uunet/bitnet connection should be established at a suitable location.

  12. The United Nations requests member States to identify support needs without which the above facilities cannot be implemented and will act to identify and possibly supply limited funding needed to support justified requests for the minimum necessary investment to start the implementation of the fundamental needs associated with this (identified as PC/AT computers class with 100-300 MB of memory, communication I/A modem and annual connection fee).


    5. Use of available scientific data bases

  13. The United Nations recognises the importance of access to advanced instrumentation and modern extended data sets for the evolution of basic space science disciplines, and urges its member States and their scientists to utilise those facilities which are currently available. Much of this could be accomplished through the utilisation of existing available data bases (such as exist for IUE and EXOSAT), but additional direct use of these facilities would add critical emphasis to the development of countries currently missing familiarity with the capabilities of these facilities.

  14. The United Nations requests the scientific institutes which are operating major basic space science facilities to respond to and support requests from developing countries for access to advanced instrumentation and to overcome, in all ways within their capabilities, the perceived problems of gaining access to their facilities.


    C. Availability and establishment of scientific facilities

    1. Utilization of infrastructural facilities

  15. In order to stimulate the utilization of the existing major facilities in basic space science by scientists from the developing countries and to enhance their awareness the United Nations will act:

    • To encourage countries having better facilities in the developed world to open their facilities to other developing countries.

    • To provide short-term fellowship and travel grants for such purposes.

    • To consider the establishment of a central facility in the form of United Nations international/regional institute(s).




    2. Utilization of ground-based facilities available in developing countries

  16. Considering,
    1. that many developing countries already have a number of medium sized telescopes which are suitable for research activities if they could be equipped with modern instruments,

    2. that there are countries where there is a great demand for telescope time; and

    3. that there is technology available in some developing countries to build the instruments to be used with existing telescopes.

  17. The United Nations will encourage member States:

    1. to share the existing telescopes with the astronomers from the region,

    2. to develop advanced instrumentation which will improve the efficiency of the existing telescopes,

    3. to develop methods which will improve use of these facilities.

  18. The United Nations will endorse and coordinate similar efforts that are being pursued by the IAU Commission number 46 for Teaching of Astronomy and for funding travels of astronomers to use these facilities.


    3. International institute on basic space science

  19. Considering the expected rapid growth and scientific returns for developing countries resulting from a concerted programme in basic space science, and expecting that regional and international co-operation would continue to be the main aspects of such an outcome, the United Nations will inquire into the establishment of an international institute of basic space science in a developing country to service such requirements. Such an institute could be thought of in the pattern of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics Trieste (ICTP).

  20. The United Nations could also consider another mechanism of realising such a goal by setting-up such centres on regional bases for co-operation amongst the developing countries.


    D. International cooperation in basic space science

    1. International cooperation and internationally coordinated basic space science programmes/projects

  21. The United Nations recognises that the benefits of the pursuit of basic space science investigations is a prime mover of collaboration between member States and therefore supports and recommends:

    1. further expansion and continuation of studies of Equatorial Electrojet (EEJ) in the context of regional/international collaboration involving

      1. the reactivation of selected geomagnetic and ionospheric observatories, as well as enhanced support of the networks of such observatories,

      2. the encouragement of active scientists to participate in international meetings,

      3. the creation of national COSPAR Committees for those member States not already belonging to this organization, which is a major venue for the co-ordination of studies in the field.

    2. the augmentation of the global coverage of INTERMAGNET by supporting the establishment of

      1. three observatories in Sri Lanka, eight in Africa and eight in South America,

      2. a regional Geomagnetic Information Node (GIN) at the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism, Bombay.

    3. the establishment of a regional information centre specifically oriented toward atmospheric sciences with the purpose of

      1. disseminating all relevant data obtained under basic space science activities such as remote sensing and atmospheric probing to provide vital regional information of fundamental importance for addressing problems related to disaster avoidance and warning.

      2. developing a new understanding of the globally important equatorial zone and therefore developing a plan (in the developing countries) leading to improved resource management and an expected improvement in living conditions.

    4. strengthening and re-orienting of the current research activities in the fields of solar-terrestrial, atmospheric and climatic studies, combined with space remote sensing observations to pursue the internationally co-ordinated Geosphere/Biosphere Programme (IGBP), which includes:

      1. Satellite observations to assess pollutant-rich areas.

      2. Ground and air truth measurements of solar radiation related to a variety of minor constituents.

      3. Physical understanding and mathematical modelling of the interlinked processes of global change.

      4. Specific unresolved aspects of the energetics of the solar-terrestrial system under the Solar Terrestrial Energy Programme(STEP).




    2. Meetings and symposia on basic space science

  22. Considering the growing interest and contribution made by several developing countries in basic space science and the need for further encouraging such activities, the United Nations will act to

    1. organise international meetings for in-depth discussions specific topics of basic space science, and

    2. organize international basic space science symposia; the first of which could be held in China and co-sponsored by the United Nations




    3. Continuation of the workshop on basic space science

  23. In order to assure a continued and co-ordinated evolution of the important issues raised at the current workshop, it is proposed to hold the next few basic space science workshops annually, though in the long run they should be held no more than biannually. The United Nations will act as soon as the delegates from Oman and Sri Lanka have inquired with their authorities into the possibilities of hosting basic space science workshops in 1992 and 1993, respectively.


    4. Space education

  24. Considering that basic space science is not taught at superior levels in many developing countries, the United Nations will act to encourage and support,

    1. introduction of the teaching of basic space science as a part of the curriculum for graduate and post-graduate studies,

    2. formation of research facilities at the universities so that motivated students could be encouraged to pursue basic space science research,

    3. conduction of summer schools and other similar orientation programmes to train the existing faculty in the physical sciences necessary to teach basic space science, exchange of teachers, scientists and research workers to make use of the facilities in the member States, and the services of organisations such as IAU and COSPAR,

    4. conduction of seminars, workshops and topical conferences within the developing countries for the benefit of teachers, scientists and researchers,

    5. introduction of popular programmes to encourage and support awareness of basic space science, and co-ordinate such activities with member States,

    6. programmes insuring the availability of basic text books and more popular information media at the professional and general public levels,

    7. generation of national career opportunities for professionals trained under the above programmes, leading to the increased competitiveness of developing countries in the peaceful study and utilization of resources associated with basic space science.




    5. International core group

  25. In order to pursue and follow-up the recommendations made during the workshop it has been decided to constitute a core group of international scientists consisting of the following members at functional and advisory levels:

    • Functional Members: China, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Venezuela

    • Advisory Members:

      • Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)

      • European Space Agency (ESA)

      • International Astronomical Union (IAU)

      • International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP)

      • National Space Development Agency (Japan) (NASDA)

      • National Aeronautic and Space Administration (USA) (NASA)