Inter-Agency Consultative Group returns to its birthplace for twentieth anniversary celebrations
9 January 2002From 10-12 January, the Inter-Agency Consultative Group for Space Science (IACG) will celebrate its 20th anniversary in Padua, Italy. Founded in September 1981 with the aim of coordinating research activities for the four main space science programmes - those of Europe (ESA), the United States of America (NASA), Russia (Rosaviakosmos) and Japan (ISAS) - this 21st IACG meeting will discuss the coordination of projects related to Solar System exploration.
Delegations from each of the space agencies will be led by the Directors of their respective science programmes, notably, David Southwood (Director of the Science Programme of ESA), Edward Weiler (NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science), Georgiy Polishuk (Deputy Director General of Rosaviakosmos) and Hiroki Matsuo (Director General of ISAS).
Present at this meeting will also be some of the principal players in the foundation of the IACG, including R. Bonnet (former Director of the Science Programme of ESA), R. Sagdeev (Interkosmos - the predecessor of Rosaviakosmos), D. Rausch (NASA) and K. Hirao (ISAS).
Back to its birthplace
The first IACG meeting was held in the university city of Padua in September 1981, mainly as a result of the passionate encouragement of the late Professor Giuseppe (Bepi) Colombo (1920-1984).
Considering that this was during the cold war era, the foundation of a group committed to fostering cooperation between the main space agencies was a remarkable achievement.
In his opening speech at that first IACG meeting, Professor Colombo said: "If you will be able to find an agreement beyond national interests and within the domain of a fruitful cooperation, you will demonstrate how good-willed people have an intrinsic capability to work together in their search for truth, the augmentation of human knowledge and the promotion of a peaceful and better society."
This appeal was not ignored, and the IACG adopted, as the first phase of its activities, the coordination of the missions of its member agencies to Comet Halley in 1986. Observing Halley's comet close-up, examining its physical structure and chemical composition and ascertaining its building materials, were a first in the history of mankind, made possible by space technology.
Five years after its first meeting, in November 1986, the IACG returned to Padua to present the scientific results of the coordinated missions.
In the course of the same Padua meeting in 1986 the IACG greatly extended the field of its activity, by promoting the joint study of the Sun-Earth relationship. The International Programme of Solar Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) has produced, and continues to produce, an immense set of scientific data regarding the complex connection between the Sun and the Earth - or rather, with the Earth-Moon system.
The University of Padua and the European Space Agency
The University of Padua has participated in several of the European Space Agency's missions, notably, Hipparcos, SOHO and Cassini-Huygens. It will contribute various elements to the International Space Station, Mars Express and Rosetta, the latter being the natural 'child' of Giotto. The University is proud to continue its strong association with the name of Professor Colombo, by participating in the instrumentation for BepiColombo, the European mission to the planet Mercury named in his honour.