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United Nations Basic Space Science Initiative (UNBSSI) 1991-2012

Monday, November 19, 2012 - 11:57

The UNBSSI is a long-term effort for the development of astronomy and space science through regional and international cooperation in this field on a worldwide basis, particularly in developing nations. UNBSSI workshops are co-sponsored and co-organized by ESA, JAXA, and NASA.

A series of workshops on BSS was held from 1991 to 2004 (India 1991, Costa Rica and Colombia 1992, Nigeria 1993, Egypt 1994, Sri Lanka 1995, Germany 1996, Honduras 1997, Jordan 1999, France 2000, Mauritius 2001, Argentina 2002, and China 2004; http://neutrino.aquaphoenix.com/un-esa/) and addressed the status of astronomy in Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Western Asia. Through the lead of Professor Dr. Masatoshi Kitamura (1926-2012) from the National Astronomical Observatory Japan, astronomical telescope facilities were inaugurated in seven developing nations and planetariums were established in twenty developing nations based on the donation of respective equipment by Japan.

Pursuant to resolutions of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and its Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, since 2005, these workshops focused on the preparations for and the follow-ups to the International Heliophysical Year 2007 (UAE 2005, India 2006, Japan 2007, Bulgaria 2008, South Korea 2009; http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/SAP/bss/ihy2007/index.html). IHY’s legacy is the current operation of 16 worldwide instrument arrays with close to 1000 instruments recording data on solar-terrestrial interaction from coronal mass ejections to variations of the total electron content in the ionosphere (http://iswi-secretariat.org/). Instruments are provided to hosting institutions by entities of Armenia, Brazil, France, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States.

Starting in 2010, the workshops focused on the International Space Weather Initiative (ISWI) as mandated in a three-year-work plan as part of the deliberations of UNCOPUOS. Workshops on ISWI were scheduled for Egypt in 2010 for Western Asia, Nigeria in 2011 for Africa, and Ecuador in 2012 for Latin America and the Caribbean. The latter one was held from 8-12 October 2012 at the Astronomical Observatory of Quito (http://oaq.epn.edu.ec/iswi/index.html ). This workshop will review the results of the operation of the above instrument arrays and will discuss ways and means to continue space weather research and education, particularly focusing on programmes as implemented by the International Center for Space Weather Science and Education at Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan (http://www.serc.kyushu-u.ac.jp/index_e.html ), which was established through the UNBSSI in 2012. Similar research and education centers were also established in Nigeria (http://www.cbssonline.com/aboutus.html ) and India (http://www.cmsintl.org/ ).

Hans J. Haubold
UN Office for Outer Space Affairs