For information only - not an official document.

6 February 2001

Japan’s Contribution to UN Programmes of Promoting Astronomy and
Basic Space Science in Developing Countries Marks Tenth Year Anniversary

VIENNA, 6 February (UN Information Service) - Cooperation between Japan and the United Nations in promoting space science programmes in developing countries is marking its tenth year in 2001. Representatives of Japan are expected to receive a special word of praise for the decade long, model-like cooperation during the next session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UN’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space which begins here on 12 February.

Building on the successes of the past ten years, the Government of Japan, in cooperation with the Vienna-based United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, is continuing the establishment of Planetaria and astronomical telescope facilities at universities in developing nations. Japan's initiative is facilitated through Japan's Cultural Grant Aid and General Grant Aid Programmes. Cooperation between leading astronomers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Tokyo, with their peers in developing countries has been a main driving force for establishing Planetaria and astronomical telescope facilities in developing nations around the world.

Planetaria have been donated to Uzbekistan (2000), India (1999), Sri Lanka (1998), Uruguay (1994), Argentina (1993). Currently negotiations are on-going between the Governments of Costa Rica and Japan to establish a Planetarium at the Universidad de Costa Rica in San Jose.

Astronomical telescopes and supplementary equipment has also been provided by Japan to the Philippines (2000), Paraguay (1999), Sri Lanka (1995). The Government of Chile is currently negotiating with the Government of Japan the establishment of an astronomical telescope facility at the Cerro Calan Astronomical Observatory at the University of Chile.

These developments follow up on recommendations made at a series of basic space science workshops organized annually since 1991 under the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, implemented by the Office for Outer Space Affairs in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA).

The annual Workshops on Basic Space Science are intended to contribute to the world-wide development of astronomy and space science. Such Workshops have been organized in India (1991) and Sri Lanka (1995) for Asia and the Pacific, in Costa Rica (1992), Honduras (1997), and Colombia (1992) for Latin America and the Caribbean, in Nigeria (1993) and Mauritius (to be held in 2001) for Africa, in Egypt (1994) and Jordan (1999) for Western Asia, and in Germany (1996) and France (2000) for Europe.

Other projects considered during the UN/ESA Workshops on Basic Space Science, include:

  • the feasibility of the establishment of a World Space Observatory (WSO/UV);
  • the Network of Oriental Robotic Telescopes (NORT);
  • the annual publication of a newsletter (African Skies/Cieux Africain) for the astronomical community in Africa; and
  • the development of educational material to be used in introducing astronomy into education curricula in developing nations at the university level.

Over the past ten years, astronomers and space scientists from 123 United Nations member States participated at or contributed to the success of the UN/ESA Workshops on Basic Space Science.

The workshops were conducted as part of the activities of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, which promotes awareness of advances in space science and technology and their applications, in developing nations. The Programme conducts annually training courses, seminars, conferences, and workshops on space-related issues. It also administers a long-term fellowship programme for in-depth training of specialists in space science and technology, provides technical advisory services on request and is contributing to the establishment and operation of regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education, affiliated to the United Nations, around the world with the goal of developing indigenous capabilities.

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