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March 6, 2021

Prunariu appointed at the helm of UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

Dumitru Prunariu, the only Romanian who flew in the outer space, assumes next June the presidency of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), ‘Evenimentul Zilei’ wrote in its edition of yesterday. The mandate at the head of the committee has a validity of two years. The Committee deals with various domains, from nuclear to navigation and problems like global heating and the limitation of the effects produced by natural disasters. An example of programme is SPIDER for the warning of the states which are threatened by natural disasters. The UN assistance is granted prior to, during and after the event. SPIDER became functional last year, and the activity is coordinated from Vienna, with working groups in Bonn and Beijing.

“Besides providing information, concrete data based on images of the outer space, UN assures also the training of the specialists for the interpretation of these data. It is useless to offer valuable information in an underdeveloped country, without specialists, if nobody can analyze and use it,” Prunariu said. Moreover, within the programme, the Romanian Space Agency (ASR) will host in Bucharest a regional center for the dissemination of the data. Romania benefited from UN’s informational support on the occasion of the floods from the past few years.

Another task of the Commission, which will be headed by the Romanian astronaut, is the analysis of the space bodies whose rapprochement from the Earth can become dangerous. About the much discussed case of “Apophis” asteroid, about which the specialists warn that it could hit the Earth in 2036, Prunariu says that such asteroids are discovered every day, and the attempt to destroy them through a nuclear bomb should be the last solution, a desperate one.

Another domain in which COPUOS specialists work is the navigation system. EGNOS, the European navigation system, which functions officially since the autumn 2009 and assures the coordination through satellite of the whole air navigation over Europe and North Africa, will be integrated into Galileo, a global system of navigation through satellite, which is estimated to become operational in 2013, 2014. Under the focus of attention of the Committee that will be headed by Prunariu is also the problem of space waste which has multiplied being a real challenge for the spaceships, and also the study of space weather. Lately it has been discovered that certain local phenomena were not accidental, being determined by strong radiations.

“We don’t speak about meteorology, but about the influence of the perturbations of the radiations from the outer space on the terrestrial phenomena,” Prunariu explained, giving also the example of certain failures of the energy systems, or the big number of medical conditions apparently unexplainable in certain areas of the Earth. As for the global heating, COPUOS cannot be an instrument of action, but one with consultative role, which can prepare the necessary framework for the study through space technologies of the emissions of CO2 at global level, of the activities of the volcanoes and of the modifications that the ozone layer suffers.

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