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By the Gazette Editorial Board

Ryugu, Hayabusa and Mascot may largely sound unfamiliar words, but they nevertheless are three names that will continue to retain special status in the history of scientific thinking and space exploration.

The first is the name of a diamond-shaped asteroid with a tiny radius of no more than 400 metres orbiting the sun at approximately a 290-million-kilometre distance from Earth. It is neither a well-sighted moon nor as huge a planet as Mars to draw wide scientific community appeal. And as far as common knowledge is concerned, only a minimum level, if any at all, of public awareness of the existence of this small space rock has existed.

The second, Hayabusa, is the name of the Japanese spacecraft that drew close to Ryugu last week after a long journey that had started four years earlier, exactly on December 3, 2014. For nearly four years since then, Hayabusa has travelled in full speed to cover the 290-million-kilometre-long distance. And for nearly a year and a half as of now, Hayabusa will survey the asteroid’s surface and dig a crater there in the hope of gathering data and building authentic knowledge of the composition of the asteroid. Some of us may question the wisdom of dedicating such a strenuous effort for five and a half years to closing in on such a tiny space object at a time when space exploration is obviously proceeding somehow slowly and shyly to reach large and Earth-like planets. Then comes Mascot, abbreviating Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout, a German-built instrument specifically designed for the survey and sample collection tasks that Hayabusa will undertake.

There certainly and clearly is something amazing about the Hayabusa mission. For the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to spend four years tracking and monitoring Hayabusa as it travelled the 290-million-kilometre journey to its destination, let alone the very many years it took to design and build the spacecraft and the funds it allocated to the project, means that the effort must have been conceived of as scientifically and technologically worth it. Literature available online suggests that since asteroids are believed to be essentially leftover building materials from the formation of the Solar System, a study of real samples collected from Ryugu would most likely unveil some clues to understanding how the Solar System, of which our planet is a part, originated and the modalities of the building process of at least some planets. Such clues may probably not be monetisable, at least for the foreseeable future. Epistemologically, however, the value of the pursuit is almost immeasurable. An insightful reading of the Ryugu-Hayabusa-Mascot mission would unveil that underlying the engagement in such an amazing scientific and technological endeavour is the time-old human longing for getting to know the physics of life on Earth and in the outer space. It is the same longing that stands behind almost all the major scientific theories and discoveries that our world has come to know.

CAIRO, April 10, 2018 - Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Aati discussed on Tuesday with the Chairman of the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA), Atef Abdel Hamid and the visiting Director of the Division for Africa of the IAEA's Department of Technical Co-operation his accompanying delegation, ways of increasing co-operation in the field of groundwater exploration.

The discussions included the possibility of the African countries benefitting from the EAEA training opportunities in Egypt, under the umbrella of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Since its establishment in 1955, the EAEA has been the country's leading institution in the promotion of the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology in various fields.


ANKARA, Turkey, March 7, 2018 (AP) — Turkey’s prime minister on Wednesday renewed a threat against the government of Cyprus’ efforts to search for offshore gas around the ethnically divided island.

Turkey opposes what it says are Greek Cypriots’ “unilateral” efforts to search for gas, saying they infringe on the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the island’s resources.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said during a joint news conference with Tufan Erhurman, the prime minister of the self-declared Turkish Cypriot state, that “provocative activities will be met with the appropriate response.”

Last month, Turkish warships prevented a rig from reaching an area southeast of Cyprus where Italian company Eni was scheduled to carry out exploratory drilling. Turkey’s blockade came shortly after Cyprus said that Eni had discovered a potentially sizeable gas deposit southeast of the island.

Yildirim’s comments were in response to reports that an ExxonMobil vessel was heading toward the Mediterranean, coinciding with exercises in the area involving the US Navy.

ExxonMobil and French company Total are among several firms that Cyprus has licensed to search for gas off its southern coast. ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum are scheduled to drill southwest of Cyprus in the autumn.

Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides rebuffed media reports suggesting that ExxonMobil vessels under US Navy escort where on their way to the area.

He said the reports “either don’t correspond with reality” or are trying to serve political aims which he didn’t specify.