Press Releases

    21 May 2004

    United Nations Holds Workshop on Basic Space Science in Beijing

    Workshop Participants to Link to NASA Laboratory in Pasadena on Space Mission Concept

    VIENNA, 21 May (UN Information Service) -- The Twelfth United Nations/European Space Agency Workshop on Basic Space Science will be held in Beijing, China, from 24 to 28 May 2004. The Workshop, which is being co-organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Government of China, will be hosted by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). The participants will be scientists, particularly from developing countries.

    In recognition of the role that space science and technology plays in the scientific, economic and social progress of all countries, the United Nations 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 focus on increased knowledge and capacity-building in developing countries, UNISPACE III called for the continuation of the successful series of the annual UN/ESA workshops on basic space science, which began in 1991.

    The twelfth workshop in that series will aim at strengthening basic space science worldwide by providing a forum to highlight recent scientific breakthroughs made in space science; fostering scientific collaboration and co-operation among countries; exploring the avenues of education and research in basic space science for the benefit of developing countries; identifying ways and means through which countries can develop facilities and capacities to participate in basic space science research and education.

    China, through CNSA, is cooperating closely with OOSA to provide support to other Member States in the uses of outer space for peaceful purposes and for the betterment of all humankind. The current Workshop will further the cooperation between CNSA and OOSA in regional and international education and research in space science and technology.

    An interactive demonstration of the early design stages of an international planetary mission will be held as part of the Workshop. The demonstration will establish a remote video conferencing and data link between Team X located at National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena in the United States and the Workshop participants in Beijing. The demonstration will show the participants how a space mission concept is developed.

    Sessions of the Workshop will also explore the Virtual Observatory concept and the ADS and their worldwide availability, as well as the role of small telescopes in this emergent way of applying astronomy in the 21st century. This is owing to the fact that the universe is being digitally recorded by ground-based and space-borne astronomical observatories at an unprecedented rate, which presents opportunities and challenges in seemingly equal measure. The advent of the Virtual Observatory concept and the Astrophysical Data Systems (ADS) signals a paradigm shift in the way astronomy will be applied worldwide in the era of information abundance and networking. A virtual observatory is a graphical user interface that provides free access to ground-based and space-borne astronomical data. The ADS project, which is funded by NASA is a digital library consisting of four bibliographies on the topics of astronomy and astrophysics, physics and geophysics, instrumentation and preprints in Astronomy.

    Small telescopes, including those in developing countries, will play an essential role in this new research and education environment, as they provide a substantial portion of all astronomical data, both as surveying instruments and as follow-up facilities. Through the UN/ESA Workshops on Basic Space Science, a concept was devised to promote basic space science in developing countries. This concept has come to be known as the TRIPOD.

    Participants from the following countries are expected to attend the Workshop: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Paraguay, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Syria, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Viet Nam and Yemen.

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    The United Nations Programme on Space Applications is implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and works to improve the use of space science and technology for the economic and social development of all nations, in particular developing countries. Under the Programme, the Office conducts training courses, workshops, seminars and other activities on applications and capacity building in subjects such as remote sensing, communications, satellite meteorology, search and rescue, basic space science, satellite navigation and space law.

    The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at