OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS


A. Basic space science




B. Availability and dissemination of scientific information


  1. Access to information

    • 11. Major space agencies of the world should be urged to supply advanced information regarding various projects to scientists in developing countries so that those scientists may involve themselves in follow-up studies.

    • 12. Considering the very high price of scientific journals and the recognized disadvantage associated with the unavailability at a professional level of information on front-line research in all countries associated with the previous workshops, it is recommended that all research groups interested in basic space science should request assistance in contacting publishers with a view to investigating mechanisms that would enhance worldwide availability of such journals.

    • 13. In view of the severe difficulties encountered by researchers in acquiring textbooks, conference proceedings and other materials needed for advanced scientific research, efforts should be made to 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 English on basic space science at the elementary, primary, secondary and undergraduate levels, as well as popular texts on basic space science in that language.

  2. Data archives and data centres

    • 14. 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.

    • 15. Member States are urged to select, through 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 the national level, e.g. COBE skymaps, ROSAT survey data, International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE), Uniform Low Dispersion Archive (ULDA) and Planetary Data System (PDS). Those clearing-houses (or data centres) would foster the development of national basic space science resources and stimulate international collaboration by the existence of centres of common interest. They would also make highly valued data pertaining to individual countries more accessible to other countries, and consequently enhance awareness of the capabilities of each country.

    • 16. Existing or planned centres are strongly recommended to open their facilities beyond national borders to support and stimulate regional access, which is considered to be mutually beneficial and will stimulate development at a regional level, making use of the services of ROSTA.

  3. Information management system

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

    • 18. 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 in developing countries for deeper involvement in basic space science. They recognized, however, that such new initiatives should be accommodated within the existing individual infrastructure of the country. They also recognized the importance of exploring ways and means by which the evolution of individual countries' basic space science activities and international cooperation could be maintained and stimulated.

    • 19. The introduction of basic space science in the university curriculum is an important tool for development, since its multidisciplinary nature will allow an independent mechanism to maintain and stimulate the development process.

  4. Electronic communication network

    • 20. The participants recognize 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 connection should be established at a suitable location.

    • 21. It is especially desirable to realize the regional importance of such central connections, since this will more than any other investment stimulate regional development by communications between scientists with common interests, to address regionally associated problems with far higher efficiency.

    • 22. Member States should identify requirements without which the above-mentioned facilities cannot be implemented and should identify and possibly provide the minimum necessary investment to start imple- mentation.

  5. Use of available scientific databases

    • 23. The participants recognize the importance of access to advanced instrumentation and modern extended data sets for the evolution of basic space science disciplines and urge Member States and their scientists to utilize those facilities that are currently available. Much of this could be accomplished by the utilization of existing available databases (such as those available for IUE and EXOSAT and that 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.

    • 24. 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, could save considerable investment.

    • 25. The United Nations recognizes the importance of the international nature of the major basic space science facilities in the region as described in the workshops as South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) and Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HARTRAO). It recognizes the opportunities offered on a regional basis for Africa in basic space science. The United Nations recommends using the focus and experience to stimulate the development of basic space science in the region through the sharing of facilities.



C. Availability and establishment of scientific facilities


  1. Utilization of infrastructural facilities

    • 26. 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, (a) countries possessing better facilities should be encouraged to open them to developing countries; and (b) developing countries should seek short-term fellowships and travel grants for such purposes.

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

    • 27. Questions on basic space science require experimental verification beyond the resources of individual nations. Therefore, the development, on a regional basis, of locations in Africa, whose climatic and geographical conditions offer unique opportunities for such work should be considered. These could also serve as a component of a global study.

    • 28. In order to help in the development of space science and technology in Africa, relevant intenational organizations should support (a) the participation of African technology in the space science projects of the major space agencies; and (b) hardware development in African countries for these projects.



D. International cooperation in basic space science


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

    • 29. A regional directory of basic space scientists and institutions in Africa should be published. Information on possible sources of funding for training and research support for the different countries will be collected and included in the directory.

    • 30. The United Nations, recognizing that the benefits of the pursuit of basic space science investigations constitute a prime motive for 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. Reactivating selected geomagnetic and ionospheric observatories, as well as enhanced support for the networks of such observatories;

        2. Encouraging active scientists to participate in and organize international meetings;

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

      2. Developing and constructing optical telescopes and radio telescopes with observatory facilities by African countries for use by the basic space scientists of the region;

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

      4. Establishing a regional information centre specifically oriented towards astrophysics and 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 improved 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 programmes 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 African astrophysicists in worldwide programmes supported by IAU;

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

    • 31. 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 basic space science. They also recognized the problems associated with the relative isolation in which scientists pursue their efforts in those cases. International organizations should therefore support:

      1. The organization of regional connectivity through data networks;

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

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

      4. The active stimulation of students in basic space science by 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 science in both decision makers and the general public.

  2. Meetings and symposia on basic space science

    • 32. 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

    • 33. In order to assure a continued and coordinated evolution of the important issues raised in the current and the previous workshops, it was proposed to hold future basic space science workshops annually, although in the long run they should be held no more than biennially.

    • 34. The United Nations should inquire into the possibilities for hosting the next basic space science workshop in 1994.

  4. Space education

    • 35. Considering that basic space science is not taught at superior levels in many developing countries, relevant international organizations should act to encourage and support:

      1. The 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, by the implementation of basic space science curricula at universities and technical schools;

      2. Formation of research facilities at universities so that motivated students may 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 of 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 basic space science;

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

      10. Strengthening of the IAU visiting lecturer programme, in coordination with IAU, with special emphasis on the African continent;

      11. Organization, under the auspices of IAU, of two consecutive, annual, regional African summer schools for teachers in the application of experimental techniques.

  5. International core group

    • 36. In order to pursue and follow up the recommendations made during the Workshop, it was 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:

      Functional members: Selection of a group of five members in good standing from the basic space science community and one member from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs;

      Advisory members: COSPAR, ESA, IAU, ICTP, Institute for Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), NASA, TPS and two members from the region of the next Workshop.

    • 37. The creation of the international core group is considered critical to maintaining the impetus generated by the first two workshops on basic space science for developing countries, and will assure the continuity of this important activity in the future.

    • 38. Core group activities:

      1. Review by a Workshop of basic space science developments in the region;

      2. Assurance that the regional benefits of the Workshop are optimized through the selection of the programme;

      3. Maintaining the purely scientific nature of the Workshop.

    • 39. Recognizing the on-going efforts of the Programme on Space Applications to establish regional centres for space science and technology education, the Workshop urges all African member States of the United Nations to give maximum support to this initiative of the United Nations.