6 August 2013

United Nations Basic Space Science Initiative

Hans Haubold UN Office for Outer Space Affairs

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 20 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 additional workshops focused on preparations for and 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 1,000 instruments recording data on solar-terrestrial interactions 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 3-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 reviewed the results of the operation of the above instrument arrays and discussed ways and means to continue space-weather research and education, particularly focusing on programs 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).

UBNSSI tabled a full report to UN Member States in June 2013; it's available on the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) website at http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/limited/l/AC105_2013_CRP11E.pdf. The report will serve as input for the 2013 United Nations/Austria Symposium on Space Weather Data, Instruments and Models: Looking Beyond the ISWI, hosted and co-sponsored by the Government of Austria, the State of Styria, and the City of Graz and co-sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), 16-18 September 2013, Graz, Austria.