Publication date: 2006-04-14
Venus Express is our top story in this week‘s CORDIS Express and we give you all the details of the mission and of the tense minutes in the mission control centre during the orbital insertion engine burn, when Venus Express‘ trajectory took it behind its target planet. For 10 minutes there were no radio signals available to ground teams. Then came applause following confirmation that the signal had been acquired anew.
News - Top Stories
The European Space Agency's Venus Express probe has successfully gone into orbit around its target - the Earth's 'sister planet' Venus - after a five month journey of 415 million km. The probe was tracked right up to the point where it met the Venutian atmosphere and began a 50-minute engine burn to slow the probe and place it into position in the Venutian atmosphere. The arrival of the Venus probe marks a high-point for ESA, with a string of recent and spectacular successes under its belt, including the SMART-1 moon probe, the Mars explorer, which will keep scientists happy for years with the mountains of data it has sent back, and the Huygens probe, which sent back staggering pictures of Saturn's moon Titan last year. The Venus Explorer also marks a phenomenal turnaround for ESA - the probe was conceived, built and deployed in only five years.
Speaking at a meeting of the SmartGrids Technology Platform, which brings together representatives from industry, utilities, transmission and distribution system operators, research centres and academia, EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik highlighted the need for a 'portfolio approach' to ensuring energy supply in Europe, covering several options at all stages of the energy chain. The portfolio approach should begin with FP7, for which the Commission identified a number of research priorities, from the development of fusion to renewable energies. Although the EU has been active in these fields for some time, investment has been insufficient and often fragmented. Future energy challenges require increased and better focused efforts and long term commitment, said the Commissioner.
'Today, Europe's competitive knowledge society becomes very visible to the world on the Internet,' said EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding on 7 April, announcing that Europe's new Internet domain, '.eu', is now open to everyone. The only requirement for registering a name under the .eu Top Level Domain is residence in the European Union. Registrations will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Meanwhile new figures from Eurostat show that a quarter of households and two-thirds of enterprises had broadband Internet access in 2005. In total, 48 per cent of households had Internet access, as did 91 per cent of enterprises. Household Internet access ranged from 16 per cent in Lithuania to 78 per cent in the Netherlands.
These articles have been taken from CORDIS News, a daily news service updated every weekday lunchtime. For more research and innovation headlines, go to the CORDIS News homepage.
Focus on Innovation
According to a new study on innovation and public procurement, carried out by Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research on behalf of the European Commission, innovative procurement is both 'unconventional and difficult', but is 'gradually coming to the foreground in many European countries and beyond'. The study assessed public procurement systems in 19 countries, including all of the EU15 except Luxembourg, and found very few examples of generalised public procurement policies for innovation with strategic objectives. The study did find examples of good practice, but that there is no single organisational model that will work for all countries and all sectors.
Future of Research
The SmartGrids Technology Platform has published its 'Vision and Strategy', intended to drive the development of electricity networks up until '2020 and beyond'. It outlines the need for flexible, accessible, reliable and economic networks, suitable for Europe's future. The challenge for Europe is to move away from power stations, often located in remote areas, which supply electricity from fossil fuels throughout an inflexible energy 'grid'. By 2030, more than a quarter of electricity needs will be met by renewable sources, and to accommodate the new ways in which these technologies will deliver electricity, the system has to change. This can be achieved only through cooperation and a shared vision.
Speaking at a COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technical Research) seminar, Professor Marc Van Ranst, a leading virology expert and advisor from Belgium presented two case studies - the first on the effects of the recent chikungunya epidemic in Réunion, and the second on avian flu. He outlined the latest research in these two recent news-grabbing diseases and explained the spread of the viruses and how best to deal with them, underlining a common method useful for both avian flu and chikungunya - education. During the talk, he said that, should an avian flu epidemic occur, the disease could be controlled effectively by vaccinating children - the key vectors in influenza spread.
The Austrian Presidency of the European Union will host a conference on European Technology Platforms in Vienna on 4 and 5 May. The event will bring together a number of speakers from industry, academia and the Commission to raise awareness of, and discuss the consequences of implementing these large-scale initiatives. European Technology Platforms are intended to help in defining the European Research Area. Speakers will include Austrian Minister for Economics and Labour Martin Bartenstein, Nokia’s vice-president of technology policy Erkki Ormala, and Janez Potocnik, EU Commissioner for Science and Research.
The DEISA (Distributed European Infrastructure for supercomputing applications) consortium will hold a symposium entitled 'European supercomputing grid infrastructure' in Bologna, Italy, on 4 and 5 May The event will provide a forum for discussion on scientific and strategic challenges in high performance computing, and on assessing the impact of DEISA on computational science in Europe. Leading computational scientists from the UK, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany will discuss topics such as climate modeling; computational fluid mechanics; materials science and computational biology; quantum chromodynamics; space missions and cosmology; and supernova research.
Calls and Tenders
The European Commission has published a prior information notice of a call for tenders on the follow-up of information society technologies (IST) project results. The contract will involve the provision of information to the public about results of IST projects, the development of the existing IST results web-based service and coverage of activities related to the Information Society Policy Link initiative. The estimated cost, excluding VAT, is 450,000 euro.
The Institute of Mining Engineering of Aachen University has expertise in areas including petrology, mineralogy, geochemistry, civil engineering, hydraulic engineering, offshore technology, soil mechanics and pollution control. It is seeking partners to set up a project under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) on assessing the sustainability of mining and post-mining related activities, including waste management and emissions reduction. The project would also address the development of sustainability indicators and assessment tools, and process chain/mass flow analyses.
The CORDIS Partners Service publish partner profiles and find research collaborators to take part in EU-funded research, join a consortium or run a private collaboration in your area of interest. You can also search by profile type, programme and/or country to Find project partners for FP6 and FP7. To find partners for the Sixth Framework Programme, go to our FP7 Partners Service, which also features an advanced search facility.
In recent years, vegetable crops have found it increasingly difficult to cope with certain diseases, or by noxious plants, such as parasitic and perennial weeds. This is in part due to alack of efficacious control methods, a ban on some chemicals, and the prohibition of their use in organic farming. Using biocontrol agents is widely considered a promising strategy for disease and weed management at the soil level, but is still used little at European level due to the limited efficacy of the microbes and a lack of knowledge regarding their optimal use. The main aim of the EU-funded project 2E-BCAS IN CROPS is to study some of the available and most promising biocontrol microorganisms (such as Fusarium, Trichoderma or Coniothyrium sp.), enabling their wider use at European level, and providing new tools to support the production of safer and healthier foods
Production time reduction is a major priority for manufacturing today. In order to achieve this goal, machines are becoming lighter and poorly damped. Damping refers to the energy dissipation properties of a material under stress, and poorly damped machines present a variety of problems caused by continuous vibration and high stress levels. The aim of EU-funded VINO project was to solve that problem using glued light and highly damped structures made of cheap conventional materials, and by providing an agile integrated design environment, a methodology to get damping information, and a design guide for glued structures. One of the partners focused on the construction of a laser cutting machine that uses advanced light damped structures (LDS). The operating profile of the new machine was devised in a way as to allow effective and low-cost laser cutting after the plastic deformation process. This innovative aspect could render this new apparatus commercially viable and competitive at the end of the development phase.
All emerging technologies featured in this marketplace are awaiting further exploitation, be it production, marketing, funding or further development. To see the range of new offers that are posted every week, go to Technology Marketplace.
Finally and briefly…
With the Easter in full swing and chocolate everywhere, the last thing you might want to read about is eggs. However, researchers from University in Japan have discovered that eggs can jump. If you spin them at extremely high speeds...