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Norwegen: Neues Zentrum für Weltraumforschung

Am 7. März wurde das Birkeland Zentrum für Weltraumforschung an der Universität von Bergen eröffnet. Die Einrichtung ist das erste von 13 Exzellenzzentren Norwegens, die in diesem Jahr Ihren Betrieb aufnehmen sollen. Das vom Norwegischen Forschungsrat aufgelegte Exzellenzzentren (SFF)-Programm zielt auf die Förderung von Einrichtungen mit höchster wissenschaftlicher Qualität.

The Birkeland Centre for Space Science at the University of Bergen officially opened on 7 March, as the first of 13 new Norwegian Centres of Excellence (SFF) to be launched this year.

The new Centre for Space Science is headed by Professor Nikolai Østgaard. The centre will receive NOK 160 million in funding from the Research Council of Norway over ten years to carry out world-class research.

"The Research Council wishes the new SFF centre the best of luck with this ambitious research project; we are looking forward to following your progress and we have high hopes for what you can achieve," says Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council of Norway, at the opening.

Connections between the heavens and Earth

Research at the new centre will focus on the regions of space adjoining the Earth. Fundamental gaps remain in our understanding of the role of the planet Earth in relation to space. However, modern technology and new imaging and satellite data can provide new answers to the age-old question: How are Earth and space connected?

The answer may in part be found in the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) over the northern hemisphere and the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) over the southern hemisphere. Researchers have long believed the electrical fields around the poles to be mirror images of one another. New measurements reveal this not to be the case. This asymmetry may hold the answer to the relationship between space and Earth.

The Centre for Space Science will also work to improve models of near space. Better models allow for more precise calculations of the interactions between solar winds and the various layers of the Earth's atmosphere. The existing models of solar currents in the outer layers of the atmosphere date from the 1970s.

Particle precipitation and gamma-ray flashes during thunderstorms are two other phenomena slated for research at the new centre. Particle precipitation affects both the temperature and the chemical composition of the atmosphere, and can therefore be of relevance to climate research as well.

The centre encompasses physics researchers at the University Centre in Svalbard and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in addition to the host institution of the centre, the Department of Physics and Technology at the University of Bergen.

Three generations of Centres of Excellence

The Centres of Excellence Scheme (SFF) is one of the Research Council's primary instruments for promoting high-calibre research. Research groups awarded SFF status benefit from ten years of significant financial support. The long-term, reliable funding makes it possible for the centres to carry out concentrated research at a top international level and to develop the collaborative relationships needed to bring them to the global research front. Activities to enhance recruitment are an important part of the overall scheme as well.

The SFF scheme was initiated in 2003 with 13 centres. Eight more centres were established in 2007. Funding of the first Centres of Excellence was concluded in 2012 while 13 new centres are being launched in 2013. As of 1 January 2013, there are 21 Centres of Excellence carrying out research in Norway. The Research Council's annual allocations to these centres total NOK 287 million.

Quelle: The Research Council of Norway Redaktion: Länder / Organisationen: Norwegen Themen: Infrastruktur Grundlagenforschung Förderung