FIFTY YEARS OF SPACE EXPLORATION
As the world celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of space exploration, representatives from around the globe gathered in Moscow and Washington D.C. to reminisce about the events that led to the first missions to space, to review space achievements since that time, and to offer plans for future space exploration. Most delegates represented large and powerful countries, such as the United States, Russia, Canada, and Germany. It seems unbelievable that Armenia, a tiny country with limited resources, would come shoulder to shoulder with these giants, but, indeed, this was the case.
The first year of space exploration, 1957, was designated as the International Geophysical Year (IGY-57). The year’s mission was to begin a fifty-year period of space exploration so that we might understand our own planet more thoroughly. The IGY-57 goals in space exploration have led to vital accelerated technological advancements, such as satellites (communication, weather, and research). Knowledge gained about the environment beyond the earth’s atmosphere has led to putting a man on the moon and to building a space research station that has been staffed continuously.
The year 2007 marks the launch of the International Heliophysical Year (IHY-07). This year’s aim is to begin a fifty-year period of exploring the environment in the sun’s “neighborhood.” The Cosmic Ray Division of the Alikhanyan Physics Institute in Armenia has a very important project associated with IHY-07, the Space Environmental Viewing and Analysis Network (SEVAN). This project encompasses placing detectors designed and made in Armenia in ten different countries. The European office of the U.S. Air Force has already funded the SEVAN detector that will be placed in Croatia. China is paying for one in Tibet. The University of Costa Rica and the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi are writing proposals to their respective governments to fund the placement of several SEVAN detectors in their countries.
Professor Ashot Chilingarian, head of the Cosmic Ray Division of the Alikhanyan Physics Institute and Armenia’s representative to the Committee On Space Research (COSPAR), was an invited participant at the 50 Years of Space celebration forum in Moscow, which was organized by the Russian Academy of Sciences. He and the delegate from Ukraine were the only two scientists from the former Soviet republics, other than Russia, to be invited to deliver a speech. Other participants at the celebration included Professor R. Bohnne (president of COSPAR) and representatives from NASA, the European Space Agency, the Japan Space Agency, and many major universities involved in space-related explorations.
In Washington D.C., Professor Chilingarian participated in the Making Science Global: Reconsidering the Social and Intellectual Implications of the International Polar and Geophysical Years conference organized by the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institute. He presented five subjects from the work in progress at the CRD that are vital to the IHY-07 goals. The SEVAN network was once again highlighted as a major project of the IHY-07. While in Washington, D.C., Professor Chilingarian took advantage of the opportunity to meet with several NASA colleagues and made a presentation at the National Science Foundation to lay the ground for Armenia’s possible partnership in several U.S. space exploratory projects.
Professor Chilingarian also met with many in the Diaspora, serving as the keynote speaker for the Michigan chapter of the Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America (AESA) 10-th anniversary banquet on October 26 and participating in a community forum at St. John Armenian Church in Detroit. On November 3, Professor Chilingarian was the keynote speaker at the AESA Greater Metropolitan Washington Area Chapter’s 10-th anniversary luncheon at St. Mary Armenian Church in Washington D.C. The interest of those in the Diaspora was evident from the many, many questions addressed to Professor Chilingarian. Pleasure at the achievements of the CRD and at the recognition these achievements bring to Armenia was expressed repeatedly by many individuals at these events.
Professor Chilingarian will be back in the U.S. in December to attend the American Geophysical Union’s annual conference in San Francisco. While here, he will speak at a public reception for the Bay Area community on Sunday, December 9, from 2 – 4 p.m., at St. John Armenian Church, 275 Olympia Way, San Francisco, as well as in Los Angeles and Fresno (those dates and locations to be announced shortly)
The Diaspora’s support for the Cosmic Ray Division of the Alikhanian Physics Institute continues to play a vital role in the world-class achievements of the CRD. These include advancing space-related science IN Armenia, educating the next generation of outstanding scientists IN Armenia; creating opportunities for exciting employment in the field of space science IN Armenia, and promoting a positive image of Armenia to the world. For more information and to support the CRD in Armenia, please visit www.crdfriends.org .
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