Press Releases

CRD Hosts Astroparticle Symposium

Joseph Dagdigian
November 24, 2008

Some of the participants at the FORGES-2008 at CRD’s Conference center in Armenia

Symposium on Mt. Aragats - From September 29 to October 3 the Cosmic Ray Division (CRD) of the Alikhanyan Physics Institute hosted The International Astroparticle Physics Symposium: “Forecasting of the Radiation and Geomagnetic Storms by networks of particle detectors (FORGES-2008)” symposium at CRD’s International Conference Center, Nor Ambert, on Armenia’s Mt. Aragats.

The focus of  the symposium was on establishing  future networks of particle detectors distributed at different latitudes, longitudes, and altitudes in order to issue warnings of approaching radiation and geomagnetic storms. Such storms are caused by energetic eruptions on the sun’s surface which expel massive amounts of electrically charged particles towards the earth, often interfering with electronic systems on earth and damaging satellites in space. Thus the ability to accurately forecast the occurrence and severity of such events is extremely important.

With 40 conference participants from Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Croatia, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Costa Rica and Armenia – CRD’s scientists and engineers presented over 20 scientific papers describing their research. Many of the Armenian presenters were young Armenian scientists, engineers, and students who were trained by CRD’s head Prof. Ashot Chilingarian and his staff of senior scientists and engineers. Among the Armenian presenters from the CRD were Prof Ashot Chilingarian discussing Surface Particle Detectors in Space Weather Forecasting, and Discrete Optimization Problems in Space Weather Forecasting; Gagik Hovsepyan presenting Detection of Elementary Particles by Plastic Scinillators; Aram Yeghikyan who presented “DVIN – Data Visualization Interactive Network for Data Interchange”; and Karen Arakelian whose topic was “Assembling and Tuning of SEVAN Measuring Units”.  SEVAN (Space Environment Viewing and Analysis Network) is a network of detectors designed by CRD scientists in Armenia and being deployed in a number of countries.

Prof. Ashot Chilingarian, head of the CRD was the chair of the organizing committee.  Dr. Nat Gopalswamy from N.A.S.A. and the head of the International Heliophysical Year 2007 (IHY-07) initiative, was among the conference organizers and Presenters in this conference.

SEVAN Network -
During the conference CRD’s talented young scientists and engineers conducted a training session on the installation and operation of CRD’s SEVAN network of Astroparticle detectors. The United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs and the IHY-07 initiative has launched a compact instrument program as one of the United Nations Basic Space Science (UNBSS) activities. SEVAN, a network of particle detectors located at the middle to low latitudes, aims to improve the fundamental research on particle acceleration in the vicinity of sun and space environment conditions. The first SEVAN modules are undergoing operational tests at Aragats Space Environmental Center in Armenia. The network will grow with detectors deployed in Croatia and Bulgaria. In 2009 SEVAN detectors are already being installed in Bulgaria and Croatia. Research groups from Croatia and Costa-Rica were introduced to the SEVAN detector operation and data analysis at this conference. The SEVAN network is partially funded by international scientific institutions.

Foreign attendees stayed at newly renovated guest facilities at CRD’s Nor Ambert research center on Mt. Aragats. These essential renovations were funded in part by the support of the Diaspora. Besides the weighty scientific discussions, attendees took time off to visit the Ambert Fortress on Mt. Aragats, Echmiadzin, art and history museums in Yerevan, and the natural beauty of Mt. Aragats. Attendees continue to send letters of appreciation to the CRD for the well run conference and the hospitality exhibited by their Armenian hosts.

Space Research Conference in Montreal -
Beside the conference hosted on Armenia’s Mt. Aragats, the CRD exhibited a strong presence at the 37th Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) conference in Montreal, Canada from July 13-23, 2008. COSPAR’s objectives are to promote international scientific research in space and to provide an open forum for the discussion of problems that may affect scientific space research. The COSPAR Scientific Assembly provides the world’s largest interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of recent results in space research. CRD’s head, Professor Ashot Chilingarian, participated in COSPAR conference as Armenia’s official representative to this organization and a member of COSPAR’s Council. Professor Chilingarian presented 3 reports based on ongoing research at the Cosmic Ray Division.

International Heliophysical Year 2008 Workshop in Bulgaria -
Cosmic Ray Division scientists, engineers, and students participated in the “2007 Heliophysical Year and Basic Space Science”conference, sponsored by the U.N., N.A.S.A., and the European and Japanese space agencies. The conference was hosted by the Solar-Terrestrial Influences Laboratory of the Bulgarian Academy of Science in Sozopol, Bulgaria on June 2-6 2008. The Outer Space Office of the United Nations, in cooperation with other agencies, has organized international workshops on basic space science every year since 1990 -particularly for the benefit of scientists and engineers from developing nations. The Armenian delegation to the conference included 5 CRD staff members, together with 2 students from Yerevan State University who worked on projects at the CRD under the direction of CRD scientists. The students’ attendance was supported by the U.N. and N.A.S.A. The Armenian delegation delivered 4 oral and 8 poster presentations, based on data from CRD’s Aragats Space Environmental Center and on initial results from CRD’s SEVAN cosmic ray particle detector network.

During the conference a project meeting was held with research partners from Germany, Switzerland, and Israel. It was decided to install new electronics for the Aragats Multichannel Muon Monitor at CRD’s Aragats research station and to send CRD physicist and recent PhD recipient Artur Reymers to visit Bern University for 2 weeks in August 2008. During meetings with Bulgarian and Croatian groups, SEVAN detector construction was explained. Visits of Armenian experts to Bulgaria and Croatia for final detector assembly were planned for late 2008. The current status of the newly established Neutron Monitor Data Base project was discussed and clarified with Swiss representative Rolf Bitgofer from Bern University. Attention was given to the CRD’s DVIN-5 computer program, which allows scientists to visualize cosmic ray data, and to neutron monitor electronics developed by the Armenian group, now undergoing testing at the CRD.

More news on the Cosmic Ray Division’s impressive accomplishments is available on the Support Committee for Armenia’s Cosmic Ray Division’s web site at . This site has a link to CRD’s web site in Armenia where more technical information is presented, as well as photographs of CRD’s facilities on Mt. Aragats and conference photos.

CRD’s impressive accomplishments could not have been made without the generous support of the Diaspora. CRD’s staff wishes to express it’s gratitude for the trust and continued support of the Diaspora.

Photo 1: Prof. Ashot Chilingarian delivering the CRD report at the Committee on Space Research congress in Montreal, Canada.

Photo2:  Cosmic Ray Division delegation at the International Heliophysical Year 2008 Workshop in Bulgaria


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