- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 May 23, 2003 

Space to Grow: US cooperation gives boost to astro research

Astronomers reconstructed a universe as it was 300,000 years after the "Big Bang".

A $276,000 investment from the United States Trade and Development Agency agreed upon last week in Yerevan is hoped to revive Armenia's place in space exploration.

Armenian Space Research Center director Vahe Gurzadyan says the contribution is an exceptional agreement in the field of Armenian science.

"During the last 10 years Armenian science has been existing thanks to grants," he says, "and grants are mainly of charitable nature for scientists' existence. This project is exceptional as Armenia will be cooperating equally with the US, without financial participation.

The USTDA finances projects which contribute to the development of modern infrastructure and show promise for trade and development of the economy. It is hoped that the agreement with the Center will stimulate economic growth as well as scientific research.

During Soviet times the Garni Space Astronomy Institute (home of the research center) was regarded throughout the USSR as one of the Union's leading space exploration stations. Gurzadyan's father, Grigor, founded the institute in the 1970s.

"Some experiments conducted in that Institute had earlier history than those ones conducted by US NASA," says younger Gurzadyan, "about that is also written in American books telling about history of space."

The institute was a pre-launch center for Soviet spacecraft, where dozens of those who later became famous astronauts came for training, including the first man to do a "space walk" Alexey Leonov.

Vahe Gurzadyan, who inherited space knowledge from his father, started "piercing outer space" since his youth. As a staff member of the Yerevan Physics Institute, he is also a professor of Rome Institute, member of the UK Royal Astronomical Society and editor of the monthly "International Journal of Modern Physics".

Two years ago Gurzadyan was working with"Boomerang" (Italian-US NASA) experimental team, which was considered as one of the most successful world experiments of recent years.

Armenian Center of Space Exploration (ACSE) director Vahe Gurzadyan.

Scientists working on "Boomerang" created an image of how the universe looked 14 billion years ago, when there were no galaxies and no stars.

"We think that the universe was formed as a result of the 'Big Bang' after which it evolved into galaxies," Gurzadyan says.

The scientist says the image recreates the universe 300,000 years after the "Big Bang".

"We know that the sun rays reach us in eight minutes and the rays of the nearest star reach us in four years, so what we observe now had already taken place eight minutes ago on the sun," Gurzadyan explains. "Consequently, the deeper we look into the space the further we look back in time."

In addition to experiments by ASRC, it is hoped that eventually the center will be used for commercial purposes, including renting the facilities for satellite communication.
Part of the center's plans calls for installation of an ultraviolet telescope for research of cosmic bodies for studies in astrophysics.

Sixty year old Russian Alexander Kashin, who have been working in the field of cosmic astronomy for about 30 years in Armenia, has great hopes with the project.

"I welcome the realization of such a project very much as for the present moment neither Armenia nor Russia can finance projects like that," he says. "Armenia had its achievements in the field of space exploration and these days with the help of our knowledge we can continue to reach new achievements."

According to Agnes
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Click to enlarge.


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  Photo of the week
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Click to enlarge.
  Happy Birthday Chuck


Charles Aznavour was in Yerevan Thursday to celebrate his 79th birthday. The French recording artist (and "Ararat" film star) was welcomed by fans and dignitaries.



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