A. Basic space science

  1. In order to assist scientists in developing countries in finding the necessary support in the pursuit of basic space sciences, the United Nations should exert its best efforts to create awareness of the importance of basic space science for national development among decision makers and the general population. Reconsidering the suggestions in the first UN/ESA Workshop in Bangalore (Document A/AC.105/489), the following areas of research were confirmed by participants as parts of basic space science:

    1. Astronomy and astrophysics;

    2. Solar-terrestrial interaction and its influence on terrestrial climate;

    3. Planetary and atmospheric studies;

    4. Origin of life and exobiology.

  2. Participants agreed that the following techniques would be applicable for pursuing basic space science research:

    1. Ground-based optical, infrared and radio observations and radio and optical telescopes with associated equipment;

    2. Remote sensing, both from the ground and from space;

    3. In-situ measurements from rocket, balloon and satellite plat-forms;

    4. All measurements from ground-inaccessible windows (e.g. X-Ray and others) which can be made only through the use of instruments and telescopes in Earth orbit;

    5. Phased radar techniques.

    B. Availability and dissemination of scientific information

    1. Access to information

  3. The United Nations should urge 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 increases in exchange rates of hard currencies, the United Nations should strive to investigate possibilities under which institutes in developing countries might benefit from existing reduced subscription rates for professional and popular journals. Alternative routes to enhance the availability of this critically important information in developing countries should also be investigated, such as the extension of the initiative taken by some journals, which are available to Latin American institutes at the individual scientist subscription rate.

  5. In view of the severe difficulties encountered by researchers in acquiring textbooks, conference proceedings and other materials needed to maintain advanced scientific research, the United Nations should ensure the printing, in association with activities already being carried out by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), ICTP, European Physical Society (EPS) and AIP, of textbooks in Spanish and Portuguese on basic space sciences at the elementary, primary, secondary and undergraduate levels, as well as popular texts on basic space sciences in these languages.

    2. Data archives and data centres

  6. The participants emphasized the importance of the availability at the national level of existing basic space science data archives for building up first-rate educational and research capabilities for internationally recognized scientific investigations.

  7. The United Nations therefore should urge Member States to select, through internal (national) discussion, local or regional clearing-houses for the highly valuable data archives that 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 (International Ultraviolet Explorer Uniform Low Dispersion Archive (ULDA)). These clearing-houses (or data centres) will foster the development of national basic space science resources and stimulate international collaboration through the existence of centres of common interest. These centres will also make highly valued data pertaining to individual countries more accessible to other countries and consequently enhance awareness of the capabilities of each country.

    3. Information management system

  8. The participants noted that the United Nations had consulted with institutes and researchers concerning the availability of the above information and the collection of detailed information on bilateral and multilateral arrangements allowing the exchange of students and researchers both for learning as well as for teaching purposes. A document containing this information was distributed in this meeting.

  9. Recognizing that a country's level of involvement in the activities in basic space science is invariably associated with existing economic conditions, the participants recommended the development of new initiatives originating in developing countries for deeper involvement in basic space science. They recognized, however, that such new initiatives should be accommodated within the individual infrastructural envelope of the country. It is important to explore ways and means through which continued evolution of individual countries' basic space science activities and international cooperation could be maintained and stimulated.

    4. Electronic communication network

  10. The participants recognized 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 urged 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.

  11. The United Nations should requests Member States to identify support needs without which the above-mentioned facilities cannot be implemented and should act to identify and possibly supply the limited funding needed to support justified requests for the minimum necessary investment to start the implementation of the fundamental needs associated with this.

    5. Use of available scientific databases

  12. The participants recognized the importance of access to advanced instrumentation and modern extended data sets for the evolution of basic space science disciplines and urged Member States and their scientists to utilize those facilities that are currently available. Much of this could be accomplished through the utilization of existing available databases (such as exist for IUE and EXOSAT and have now become available from the planetary missions), but additional direct use of these facilities would add critical impetus to the development of institutions currently unfamiliar with these facilities.

  13. The United Nations should request the scientific institutes that 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.

  14. The distribution and acquisition of software, especially in relation to the techniques related to data acquisition, data reduction, image processing, and physical modelling, which has already been developed, can save considerable investment.

    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 developing countries and to enhance their awareness, the United Nations should:

    1. Encourage countries having better facilities to open them to developing countries;

    2. Provide short-term fellowships and travel grants for such purposes;

    3. Stimulate the strengthening of the established facilities with specific expertise in the developing countries, so as to promote the existence of regional centres of expertise. These can act as catalysts and training centres for the development of global as well as regional research in the basic space sciences. These centres should strive to stimulate the information flow in their region (e.g. information on institutes and active scientists, funding sources, etc.). Coordination of a regional fund for student exchange in a well organized programme would be an important contribution.

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

  16. Considering (a) that the climatological and geographical situation of the Latin American countries presents unique opportunities for observations in the basic space sciences, of which only a few are currently realized with very limited access possibilities for the developing countries of the region; (b) that there are countries where there is a great demand for observing facilities; and (c) that there is technology available in some developing countries to build the instruments and detectors for use at recognized sites, the United Nations should encourage Member States:

    1. To share the existing telescope access with the scientists from the region;

    2. To develop such locations and stimulate the construction of advanced instrumentation, utilizing the techniques identified for basic space sciences;

    3. To improve the rocket and balloon scientific launch facilities in Latin America and to generate support for a strong regional programme in high energy astrophysics and in situ ionospheric studies.

    4. To develop methods which will assure efficient use of these facilities, and encourage the major space agencies to support developing countries' initiatives in the field.

  17. In order to help in the development of space sciences and technology in Latin America, the United Nations should support:

    1. The participation of Latin American technology in the space science projects of the major space agencies;

    2. Hardware development in Latin American countries for these projects.

    D. International cooperation in basic space science

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

  18. The United Nations should publish a regional directory of basic space scientists and institutions in Latin America. Information on possible sources of funding for training and research support for the different countries will be collected and included in this directory.

  19. The United Nations, recognizing that the benefits of the pursuit of basic space science investigations constitute a prime mover of collaboration between Member States, should therefore support and recommend:

    1. Further expansion and continuation of studies of Equatorial Electrojet (EEJ) and the South Atlantic Geomagnetic Anomaly 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 and organize international meetings;

      3. The creation of national committees for the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) for those Member States not already belonging to that organization, which is a major venue for the coordination of studies in the field;

    2. Development and construction of optical telescopes and radio telescopes with observatory facilities by the Latin American countries for use by the basic space scientists from the region.

    3. Augmentation of the global coverage of INTERMAGNET by supporting the establishment of three observatories in Sri Lanka, eight in Africa and eight in South America;

    4. The establishment of a regional information centre specifically oriented toward astrophysics, atmospheric and geoplanetary sciences for the purpose of:

      1. Disseminating all relevant data obtained under basic space science activities such as remote sensing, atmospheric probing, astrophysics and geophysics 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 improvement in living conditions;

    5. Strengthening and reorienting current research activities in the fields of solar-terrestrial, atmospheric and climatic studies, combined with space remote-sensing observations and comparative planetary sciences with participation in the internationally coordinated Global Change and associated programs such as START, including:

      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.

    6. Strengthening current research activities in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics, including:

      1. Experimental, observational, and theoretical astrophysics;

      2. Participation of Latin American astrophysicists in worldwide IAU-supported programs.

      3. Systematic galactic and extragalactic observations from equatorial latitudes and the southern hemisphere over the full electromagnetic spectrum.

  20. The participants recognized the difficulties existing in smaller developing countries relating to maintaining and participating in the technological and social developments following naturally from a viable programme in the basic space sciences. They also recognized the problems associated with the relative isolation in which scientists pursue their efforts in these cases. The United Nations should therefore support:

    1. Organization of regional connectivity through data networks;

    2. Stimulation of institutional relations between those regional centres of expertise and local institutes to allow the buildup of a national capability to participate in the rapid scientific, technical and associated cultural development in the world;

    3. Training and further development of human resources, to stimulate and enhance the participation in a balanced development, even for smaller countries;

    4. Active stimulation of students in basic space sciences through the participation in exchange programmes on a regional basis, as well as the exchange of prominent teachers and high level technicians on a regional basis.

    5. Efforts to create awareness of the importance of basic space sciences with both decision makers and the general public.

  21. The participants deplored the indiscriminate destruction of carefully built-up infrastructure for the basic space sciences through unstable social conditions. Such destruction is considerably more destructive than only the material damage suffered, since important opportunities for rapid progress are lost. The importance of basic space sciences as a driving force in social renewal was recognized. Basic space science should be carried out with stronger conviction by scientists, associated with more extensive general dissemination programs.

    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 should organize and support international meetings for in-depth discussions on specific topics of basic space science;

    3. Continuation of the workshop on basic space science

  23. In order to assure a continued and coordinated evolution of the important issues raised in this and the previous workshop, it was proposed to hold the next basic space science workshops annually, although in the long run they should be held no more than biannually.

  24. The United Nations should inquire into the possibilities for hosting the next basic space science workshop in 1993.

    4. Space education

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

    1. Introduction of the teaching of basic space science, including experimental, techniques as a part of the curriculum for primary and secondary level education as well as undergraduate and graduate education;

    2. Formation of research facilities at universities so that motivated students could be encouraged to pursue basic space science research;

    3. Organization of summer schools and other similar orientation programmes to train existing faculty in the physical sciences necessary to teach basic space science;

    4. Exchange of teachers, scientists and students to make use of the facilities in Member States and the services of organizations such as IAU and COSPAR;

    5. Organization of seminars, workshops and topical conferences within the developing countries for the benefit of teachers, scientists, students and the general public;

    6. Introduction of popular programmes to encourage and support awareness of basic space science, and the coordination of such activities between Member States;

    7. Establishment of programmes ensuring the availability of basic textbooks and more popular information media at the professional and general public levels;

    8. Distribution and acquisition of educational software for the basic space sciences;

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

    5. International core group

  26. In order to pursue and follow up the recommendations made during the Workshop it has been decided to constitute a core group, under the auspices of the United Nations (Office for Outer Space Affairs), of international scientists consisting of the following members at the functional and advisory levels:


    Advisory members: COSPAR, ESA, IAU, ICTP, National Space Development Agency (Japan) (NASDA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States of America)

    The creation of the International Core group is considered critical to maintain the impetus generated by the first two workshops on basic space sciences for the benefit of the developing countries, and will assure the continuity of this important activity for future times.