13 June 2001


IN MAURITIUS, 25 – 29 JUNE 2001

VIENNA, 13 June (UN Information Service) – This year the tenth United Nations/European Space Agency Workshop on Basic Space Science will be hosted by the University of Mauritius in Reduit, Mauritius, from June 25 to 29. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs will be organizing the Workshop in cooperation with the European Space Agency and the Government of Mauritius.

The United Nations has long recognized that the scientific, economic, and social progress of all countries is inter-related, and has accordingly emphasized 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, the General Assembly adopted resolution 54/68 calling for continuation of the successful series of the UN/ESA workshops on basic space science started in 1991.

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

The workshop seeks to strengthen basic space science world wide 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.

Previous workshops have been held in India (1991) and Sri Lanka (1995) for Asia and the Pacific, Costa Rica (1992) and Honduras (1997) for Central America, Colombia (1992) for Latin America and the Caribbean, Nigeria (1993) for Africa, Egypt (1994) and Jordan (1999) for Western Asia, and Germany (1996) and France (2000) for Europe. The UN/ESA workshops have resulted in the implementation of various follow-up projects in developing countries, particularly the inauguration of astronomical telescope facilities, also supported by the Government of Japan, in Colombia, Honduras, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Egypt, Paraguay, and the Philippines. Networking of these and similar facilities in terms of research and education programmes will be a focal point of the deliberations of the workshop.

This year’s workshop will also focus on the following topics: (1) Sky surveys; (2) In-situ and remote exploration of the solar system and beyond; (3) Experience with, results from, and the need for networks of telescopes; (4) Data manipulation, databases, and multi-wavelength analysis, and (5) The benefits of space science to society. A one-day session of the Workshop will focus on the solar satellite missions SOHO, Yohkoh, Ulysses, and TRACE: mission development, mission results for research and education, data access and analysis and available software for that purpose. Additional working group sessions will be held in order to develop future activities related to the above topics.

Speakers from the following countries were invited to contribute to the Workshop: Argentina, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syria, Uganda, United Kingdom, USA, Yemen, and Zambia.

Co-organizers of the UN/ESA Workshops on Basic Space Science are the Austrian Space Agency (ASA), Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), European Space Agency (ESA), French Space Agency (CNES), German Space Agency (DLR), Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS, Japan), International Astronomical Union (IAU), Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP, Italy), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, USA), The Planetary Society (TPS, USA), and the United Nations (UN).

* * * * *