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Space research on the new particle accelerator

ESA Director Thomas Reiter at FAIR



At the end of February 2013 high-ranking members of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Europe GmbH (FAIR) met in Darmstadt for a joint workshop. The event took place on the premises of FAIR GmbH. Here the experts from both institutions, among them ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations Dr. Thomas Reiter, explored possibilities for a cooperation on the future international accelerator facility.

The participants identified four possible areas for cooperation, which were presented at the end of the event:

  • Radiobiology which studies the impact of cosmic radiation on the human organism,
  • Measurements on the shielding of radiation in manned space flight,
  • The testing of satellite components so as to verify whether, for example,
  • the sensitive electronics and other hardware withstand cosmic radiation, and
  • Best practice exchange in software development for control systems used in satellite operations.

“We see major potential for the inclusion of certain areas from space research in the new accelerator facility,” stated Professor Boris Sharkov, the Scientific Director of FAIR.

Expert teams from ESA in the Netherlands (ESA/ESTEC), and also from Darmstadt (ESA/ESOC), have already been cooperating with GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH in Darmstadt in the fields of radiobiology and dosimetry since as long ago as 2008. “We are examining possibilities to also continue this cooperation at the new accelerator center. In particular radiobiology, which studies the impact of cosmic radiation on the human organism, is an important part of the preparation for the long-term planning of manned missions to the moon and beyond,” underlined ESA Director Reiter, himself a former astronaut on the international space station ISS and on Russia’s MIR station.

The extensive specialist meetings in the framework of the workshop helped experts from both sides to establish which requirements ESA currently places on application-relevant research on the new particle accelerator and could also develop in the future. Following the workshop the experts from ESA inspected the GSI accelerator facility.

ESA and FAIR members, among them Thomas Reiter (fourth from left), see potential for cooperation.
Photo: K. Back für FAIR