30.09.2011 - Natural Sciences Sector

Celebrating World Space Week

© ESA – P. CarrilGOCE, the European Space Agency’s Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, is bringing us new understanding of Earth's gravity field, mapping tiny variations in unprecedented detail.

‘50 Years of Human Spaceflight’ is the theme for World Space Week 2011, which is the largest public space event on earth. Dedicated this year to the first human spaceflight that took place on April 12, 1961, when Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin made one orbit around the Earth aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft, the World Space Week is celebrated in over 55 nations every October 4-10.

UNESCO is involved in several events in celebration of the week. The exhibition ‘Satellites and World Heritage Sites, Partners to Understand Climate Change’ highlights the specific climate change challenges facing World Heritage sites. The series of 25 panels use satellite images to show the threats facing these unique places, including shrinking glaciers, coral bleaching, disappearing permafrost, desertification and floods. They are shown on the UNESCO Headquarter fences in Paris, France until 11 November 2011 and are accessible online.

In the framework of the UN-declared World Space Week, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), together with UNESCO, is organizing a capacity-building workshop on astronomy for secondary teachers in Bangladesh, in cooperation with the Bangladesh Astronomical Society (BAS). The aim of this workshop is to enhance capacity of secondary teachers in their teaching of basic and modern astronomy and introducing it to the school curricula. The 3- day workshop will cover basic and modern astronomy, including hands-on sessions with access to the Faulks telescope as well as issues on how to teach astronomy in the classroom and to integrate it in the school curricula.

UNESCO is also participating in the International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, where its Space for Heritage activities will be presented to the participants, and a potential partnership for South African space activities will be discussed.

This year, World Space Week coincides with the announcements of the Nobel Prizes. The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded ‘for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae’ with one half to Saul Perlmutter and the other half jointly to Brian P. Schmidt and Adam G. Riess.

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