Thursday, July 05, 2007

Europe's role in today's astronomy

ScienceDaily has an article about the subject of Europe's role in astronomy today.

Europe Plays Lead Role In New Age Of Astronomical Discovery

Astronomy is entering a new golden age of discovery led by breakthroughs in telescopes and instruments making them capable of observing distant events early in the life of the universe. There is now great optimism that one of the fundamental questions of cosmology, the origin of galaxies, will be resolved within the next decade or sooner. But the technology involved is expensive, for instruments have to be highly sensitive and some of the observation needs to take place from space beyond the interference of the earth's atmosphere, so an international effort is involved.

Europe is playing a key role in this global programme with three new instruments, including the €1 billion Herschel Space Observatory (HSO), and the European Science Foundation (ESF) has been helping to coordinate the effort by bringing many of the principle users of these facilities together at an international conference. Delegates included leading specialists in all aspects of galaxy and star formation.

Europe has always had a strong tradition for involvement in astronomy (many of the early pioneers were European after all), but it's good to see that Europe still keeps on investing money in such research.

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