Global scientists descend on Mysore for space summit

By Fakir Balaji, IANS,

Mysore (Karnataka) : Over 2,500 scientists from 75 countries descended on this city of palaces, for a week-long international space summit, being held in India for the second time after 33 years.

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“As the last frontier of science, space offers limitless opportunities to explore the vast universe and discover its unknown assets for the benefit of humankind,” a top space agency official said in this Karnataka city, 150 km from Bangalore, Saturday.

Hosted by the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the seven-day biennial 39th Scientific Assembly of the Committee on Space Research (Cospar-2012) will deliberate on a global vision for space in 2020 and beyond.

As the Indian IT bellwether Infosys Ltd is the co-host of the mega event, the assembly is being held at the N.R. Narayana Murthy centre of excellence in its sprawling green campus on the outskirts of Mysore.

“Holding an event of this magnitude in India after three decades is recognition of our achievements in space technology and it s applications for the benefit of over a billion people and our contribution to the international space exploration,” ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan told reporters even as the assembly got underway.

With India embarking on dedicated space missions such as Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 to the moon, Kalpana-1 satellite for meteorological data, health satellite for tele-medicine, Edusat for tele-education and a host of advanced communications and remote sensing satellites, the space agency has been successful in igniting young minds and drawing global attention and recognition.

“Our activities in the recent past have attracted the attention of the space-faring nations worldwide and recognition following the successful lunar mission and launch of multiple satellites for several international customers over the years in polar and geo-synchronous orbits using our rockets,” former ISRO chairman and Physical Research Laboratory Council chairman U.R. Rao said on the occasion.

The delegates, including 800 research scholars and students will get an overview of the challenges the scientists face in utilising space resources and assets being built from the 3,600 papers, pos ters and reports that will be presented through 630 sessions during the summit.

“Science thrives on its technology application. There was a time when astronomers were looking at space and the solar system using ground-based equipment, including powerful telescopes to scan the universe. Space technology has reversed the trend to observe the earth and other planets using satellites and a host of scientific instruments from space,” said Radhakrishnan.

The assembly will also have six inter-disciplinary lectures, a presentation on ‘A space astronomy global road map for the next decades’ and a public lecture on exo-planets by experts.

Heads of the nine space-faring nations, including Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea Russia and the US will present their respective vision for space in 2020 and beyond.

“The assembly is an ideal platform to present India as a significant venue for s pace research and innovation. Hosting such a prestigious event offers our scient ists an opportunity to get involved and benefit from interactions with their glo bal counterparts,” Rao pointed out.

The previous (38th) assembly was held at Bremen (Germany) in 2010 and the next assembly (40th) session will be held at Moscow in 2014.