6 April 2010

Launch: New Danish center for space research

With the aim of strengthening Danish space research, several institutes at the University of Copenhagen are teaming up to form a new interdisciplinary center, the Space Science Center. 

”With the new center, we focus more on the scientific research in space and we can give the research more weight, explains Kristian Pedersen, head of the new center. Kristian Pedersen is an astrophysicist at the Dark Cosmology Centre at the Niels Bohr Institute. Other research groups included in the new center are the Mars Group and the Geodesics at the Niels Bohr Institute along with research groups from Geography and Geology, the Natural History Museum of Denmark and the Department of Computer Science.

There are already several space research projects underway at the University of Copenhagen. Even though the research groups have incredibly talented researchers within their fields, it is difficult for the individual groups to really get into space research, as it is currently happens in large teams and requires a high degree of specialisation and technological insight. The new center will bring together and develop the special competencies that are required for space research and thus make easier for the research groups to participate in space research projects.

The Universe seen from all angles

The night skyThere are currently 10 research groups included in the new center and the one thing they all have in common is that they use the same platform for their research – space. 

Astrophysicists in the Dark Cosmology Centre look out into space using space telescopes, geologists, geographers and geodesists look down at the Earth from satellites in space. 

Biologists at the Zoological Museum have sent the small and extremely hardy tardigrada (also known as water bears) out into space, where they survived extreme heat, extreme cold and cosmic radiation which would otherwise kill all life.

The Mars Group and the DNA Group take part in expeditions to Mars to investigate whether the red planet is or has been inhabitable and meteorite researchers at the Geological Museum have proposed sending a probe to the asteroid belt to take close-ups of the meteorites and examine their chemical composition and provide new knowledge about the formation of the solar system. 

Computer scientists are experts in analysing images and their knowledge of image processing can be used to get even more information out of the images that are used in the exploration of the universe and the Earth.

These are examples of the research, which will be brought together and strengthened and will lead to new interdisciplinary projects in space research.

More and better space research

”The aim is to have more and better space research in Denmark by being at the forefront of several space missions. You can only do the best research if you have access to the best data and you get that by being directly involved with a mission. In order to be part of a mission you have to contribute an instrument or a programme. Otherwise you are sitting on the sidelines and will only get access to data after the key players have harvested the best fruit”, explains Kristian Pedersen. He is also working on the Space Science Centre launching both a programme for the development of space technology and a new education programme in space research for master and PhD students.

The new center opens Tuesday the 13.th of April 13.15-15 at the Geological Museum, Øster Voldgade 5-7.

Space Science Center >>