SpaceForScience aims to facilitate scientific cooperation in Europe, especially in Southern and Eastern Europe, by providing virtual, collaborative, working and education applications for research institutions, via either fast academic networks or bi-directional satellite links. The goal of SpaceForScience is to enable distant centres all over Europe to connect, meet, work, teach and learn wherever their geographical position, thus enabling isolated institutes to enter into the cooperative research, education and technology transfer networks. |
SpaceForScience will provide telecommunication and multimedia satellite applications for Education and Research Institutes. The aim is to offer anyone, anywhere in South Eastern Europe, a truly unified and unlimited access to educational and scientific resources, which could easily be extended on a global scale, as has already been proven within the MediaSpace project. This group of users, selected with the help of UNESCO, represents a variety of scientific communities, who will participate in the pilot step of the project, to use and evaluate the system according to their scientific activities, within the following four themes:
- Life Science (Molecular biology and genetics/ epidemiology/ plant biotechnology),
- Nanotechnology (solar, hydrogen, fuel cell energy conversion cycle),
- Information and Communication technologies (security/ satellite/ signal processing/ GRID),
These scientific themes have been selected for the potential impact they will have on the development of the countries involved.
- Earth Science (earthquake hazard mitigation).
SpaceForScience uses the latest IP and DVB RCS satellite telecommunication standards, as space technologies are the perfect solution for complementing and extending an IP network infrastructure to provide high speed Internet access to even those located beyond the local, terrestrial DSL network. The system is centred on an applications platform collocated with a satellite transmission means and access to the Internet backbone. This platform hosts all of the applications and contents to decrease the cost and the complexity of the user configurations. The DVB RCS solution can provide satellite connectivity to the applications platform when the terrestrial connectivity is too weak or of bad quality, but also extending to those users where a terrestrial connection is not yet an option. The SpaceForScience core, shared infrastructure and hosting platform provide both interactive and non-interactive applications accessible via personalised pages, while the portal offers unified access to the applications via the platform. Each community has a specific dedicated environment on the portal, which offers an easy and high-quality portfolio of application modules, which are as follows: Content Management Modules:
- Storage on dedicated application servers,
- Encoding/ decoding MPEG1, 2, 4,
- Video streaming: live (in real time) or off-line in MPEG1, 2, 4,
- Push for content distribution.
- Classical portal applications, journals, directories, mail,
- Information and news management,
Network Optimisation and Connectivity Modules:
- Access to the applications.
- User management and authentication,
- IP Multicast applications.
- Video conferencing, for highly critical tele-diagnosis in medicine to middle/ low quality for virtual meetings,
- Remote conferencing, remote participation to conferences,
- Collaborative work: live or off-line, document sharing, white board, interactive voice and video communications, chat,
- E-Education applications: live or off-line, virtual learning courses with/ without interactivity and online follow-up of curricula.
These application solutions are provided as a One-Stop-Shop system where each user may select their own set of application modules, according to its current configuration and user modes. These application solutions may evolve with time and needs.
SpaceForScience aims to be the catalyst for the early adoption and take up of DVB RCS solutions as components for academic networks and applications. In line with MediaSpace, the purpose of the SpaceForScience project is to provide applications within the scientific field, improving academic networks with another high bandwidth application and means, developing education and scientific activities whilst boosting economical development. The project's long-term objective, inline with UNESCO's strategy, is to foster a long-term partnership between the Scientists in Eastern and Western Europe, offering the remote research teams/centres a rich, collaborative working space for balanced information exchanges, knowledge sharing and mutually-benefiting cooperative activities During the pilot step of the project, the applications and infrastructure will be defined and validated by both academic and international institutions, (research centres, universities, European and UN organisations), with the objective to produce adapted technical and operational models which will then be exploited in the deployment step for both national and regional infrastructures.
There are two key elements to take into consideration when assessing this project:
- The benefits of using the advanced satellite DVB RCS standard; its compatibility with IP protocols and faster deployment, enabled by satellite technologies, provides connectivity to academic institutes that are currently connected by lesser performing terrestrial networks.
- The solutions provided by the applications platform; partly developed through a previous project, MediaSpace, have been enhanced to support scientific use, offering information management facilities, e-education applications and fast broadband access to academic backbones.
The aim of the SpaceForScience project is not only to provide tools to develop user collaboration in research and in remote access to education, but also to create a synergy between the research and industry sectors, especially with regards to technology/know how transfers. The first beneficiaries of this project will be the scientific and educational institutes in Europe, mainly from Eastern and South Eastern Europe.
These groups of scientific users, selected with the help of UNESCO, will use the pilot system to evaluate its capability at supporting:
- Daily networking activities in research, collaborative working tools, virtual meetings between groups, access to remote conferences, data sharing and exchanges,
- E-education programs, developed on a larger scale, from universities all over Europe, to provide remote access to high quality curricula whilst retaining the students in their own countries,
These user communities have been predominantly selected from the South Eastern European countries, but an extension of the boundaries to cover the rest of Europe can be foreseen in the future.
- Technology and know-how exchanges, from research to education and from research to industry, hence aiding the development of local economies.
The selection of the user sites has been achieved with a special care for the following general criteria, so as to ensure a maximum level of cooperation and technical relevance of the selection with the project's features and objectives:
Four thematic groups in terms of scientific and research activities have been identified out of the selected user sites proposed by UNESCI in the SEE's countries:
- Have a concrete need for such tools to support and enhance their cooperation,
- Be representative of the SEE diversity and of the scientific fields recommended during the Ministerial Round Table,
- Be able to contribute to the local development of the countries.
As a whole, the SpaceForScience pilot has been performed on the following selected user sites:
- Computer Sciences and Telecommunication
- Environmental Sciences
- Life Science
- Biology, Biotechnologies in Health and Genetics,
- Agriculture, Environment, Biotechnologies in Agriculture.
- Focolare sites: 8 sites over 5 countries -Italy / Germany / Hungary / Spain / Switzerland,
- UNESCO sites: 19 sites over 7 countries- Serbia and Montenegro / Croatia / Bulgaria / Bosnia and Herzegovina / Romania / FYR of Macedonia / Albania,
- ESA sites: 2 sites over 2 countries- ESRIN- Italy and ESTEC- The Netherlands.
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The Information Workshop has been organised together with UNESCO, on the 28 and 29th September in UNESCO - Paris France, and represented a fruitful opportunity not only to present the project's objectives, planning and concrete modalities, but also to demonstrate the innovative tools and potentialities of the SpaceForScience system to the Scientific User Communities' representatives.
The Hands'On Workshop held in Alcatel Alenia Space - Cannes France on the 7th and 8th November, gathered the technical managers of each user site of SpaceForScience, in order to present the status of the project's implementation and to provide a face-to-face training on the installation, access and use of the system and of the applications.
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At this occasion, users were presented with the Usage Protocol allowing them to properly access all the system's functionalities and training sessions that have been organised.
The experimentation phase could then start within the best conditions. Some sessions are regularly organised to allow a sound appropriation of the provided tools by the users themselves in their daily activities, and to provide some real-usage-based feedback on the system, the application, and the recommendations formulated by the users. The proposed design of an operational model is the targeted result of such an evaluation by the users, in terms of potential further developments that can be envisaged for the SpaceForScience post-project and transition phase. During the World Summit on Information Society, held in Tunis (15th-19th Nov 2005), SpaceForScience facilities and applications were presented at the ALCATEL booth and put at disposal to Focolare, allowing them to proceed with daily collaborative working sessions between the booth in Tunis and various sites in Europe.
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Last Update: 20 Jun 2008