Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronomy's bright future

03.03.2009
To mark UNESCO's International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009), six leading astronomers from the UK, the US, Europe and Asia write in March's Physics World about the biggest challenges and opportunities facing international astronomers over the next couple of decades.

Many of those challenges are purely scientific, including the quest to clarify the true nature of dark matter and dark energy; the search for extra-terrestrial life among the myriad of extrasolar planets that are set to be discovered; and finding the first stars that formed after the Big Bang.

Other challenges are political - including the need for mass international collaboration to fund and manage astronomical facilities, many of which are being so large and expensive that no single country can afford them alone. For example, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, which is being built in Chile, involves astronomers from the UK, US and Japan.

The contributors are Catherine Cesarsky, President of the International Astronomical Union, Martin Rees, the UK's Astronomer Royal, Tim de Zeeuw, Director General of the European Southern Observatory, John Huchra, President of the American Astronomical Society, Andrew Fabian, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and Seok Jae Park, President of the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute.

All contributors express optimism about the future of global astronomy, reflecting on the advances that new facilities promise: from the Planck Satellite making detailed observation of fossil radiation, due to take off next month; NASA's planned joint dark energy mission; 2013's launch of the James Webb Space Telescope to help answer questions about the Universe's very first stars; and the European Southern Observatory's European Extremely Large Telescope, which, if built, could be the "world's biggest eye on the sky".

As Tim de Zeeuw, Director of the European Southern Observatory, writes, "Technological developments now make it possible to observe planets orbiting other stars, peer deeper than ever into the universe, use particles and gravitational waves to study celestial sources, and to carry out in situ exploration of objects in our solar system. This promises tremendous progress towards answering key astronomical questions."

But, as Seok Jae Park, President of the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, says, "The greatest challenge for astronomy is international collaboration, because building big and expensive telescopes can no longer be accomplished by a single country alone. It is my hope that IYA2009 will enable astronomers from around the world to create a new tradition of cooperation in astronomy."

Catherine Cesarsky, President of the International Astronomical Union, underlines her wish during IYA2009 to communicate the joys and benefits of astronomy. "It is [the] sense of discovery and awe that astronomers wish to share with our fellow citizens all over the world. We thus hope to stimulate a long-term increase in student enrolment in science and technology, and an appreciation for lifelong learning."

Joe Winters | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iop.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>