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Hungarian space astronomers most efficiently convert data from ESA missions into scientific discoveries

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Hungarian space astronomers most efficiently convert data from ESA missions into scientific discoveries

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A significant part of the domestic results was based on data from the Gaia astrometric space observatory and the Herschel infrared space telescope.

Among the member countries of the European Space Agency, Hungarian astronomers contributed significantly more than the proportion of the paid financial contribution with their research and professional publications to the individual scientific programs – announced the HUN-REN Astronomy and Earth Science Research Center (CSFK) based on the announcement of the European Space Agency (ESA).

With a comprehensive analysis of more than 68,000 technical articles, the ESA’s scientific directorate examined the astronomical, planetary science and solar physics research results of the last nearly 50 years based on the data of the scientific missions led by ESA or carried out with its cooperation – reads the HUN-REN Research Center for Astronomy and Earth Sciences (CSFK) ) in his announcement summarizing the ESA analysis.

In the study carried out by Guido de Marchi and Arvind N. Parmar, the effectiveness of the space telescopes and space probes realized in the framework of the ESA scientific program was presented in specialist publications, covering in detail the annual changes in the published results and the effectiveness indicators projected for each member country. In addition to the changes over time, the geographical distribution of the authors of the technical articles among the member countries of the space agency was assessed, and then these data were compared with the financial contribution of the individual countries to the ESA scientific program.

“In general, the results show the unsurprising correlation that the larger a country’s contribution to ESA’s funding, the more technical articles are published by the members of the space astronomy community in that country. In the case of some countries, however, the researchers working there published new discoveries with ESA – missions: the Netherlands, Finland and Hungary contributed significantly more than the proportion of their contributions with their research and with professional publications based on the results to the individual programs,” the report reads.

In the examined period, Hungary registered more than 200 first-authored articles, which is 45 percent more than what is predicted based on the Hungarian budget contribution based on the correlation between the 22 member countries (the Dutch efficiency surplus is 42 percent, and the Finnish one is 40 percent).

As the authors of the cited study highlight, a significant part of the Hungarian results were based on data from the Gaia astrometric space observatory (56 articles) and the Herschel infrared space telescope (31 articles).

According to their analysis, in relation to the financial contribution invested, the Hungarian space astronomy community converts the data of ESA missions into scientific discoveries the most efficiently in Europe.

“With hard work, we managed to achieve the fact that today nearly a dozen Hungarian astronomers are conducting world-class research based on the measurements of Gaia, the revolutionary space observatory that created the three-dimensional map of the Milky Way,” the announcement quotes László Szabados of the Konkoly Thege Miklós Astronomical Institute of the HUN-REN CSFK Konkoly Thege Astronomical Institute (KTM CSI). professor emeritus, who primarily deals with research into pulsating variable stars in the Gaia program.

“The fact that the Hungarian space astronomy profession participates in all ESA’s exoplanet space telescope missions is an acknowledgment that our knowledge and experience are at the international forefront,” added Róbert Szabó, Director of the KTM CSI of the HUN-REN CSFK, the ESA PLATO and ARIEL space telescopes -programmes leading astronomers.

ESA is an intergovernmental organization bringing together 22 member countries, whose aim is to develop European space research, space industry and space sciences. In its scientific program, it plays a leading and contributing role in the construction of space telescopes, solar probes, and solar physics space observatories. Hungary joined the full member countries in 2015. In 2023, with the launch of the JUICE Jupiter probe and the Euclid space telescope, the expansion of ESA’s scientific program continued in the form of new promising missions – also with Hungarian participation.

“The above independent scientific data lead the Hungarian astronomy profession to the conclusion that, based on the good results so far, it would be important to move forward in order to create a Hungarian-initiated and led scientific ESA mission. This would not only offer another breakthrough opportunity for space astronomy, but in the role of an integrator, he could raise the developing domestic space industry to an even higher level, thereby building on the already close cooperation between science and the space industry sector in our country,” the CSFK said in a statement.

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