Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Polish NASA?

Surly some mistake? But no: a cross party group has decided to set up a Polish rival to NASA. Well, not really a rival to it, but at least have one that rivals...Italy’s space agency [I didn't know they had one, either]. So will we see a Polish Space Shuttle powering off the launch pad at Warsaw airport anytime soon?

No. The project is a little more modest than that. But let’s hope it’s not a Polish version of Galileo – not the EU’s finest hour.

But while Brussels’ has a Galileo complex, Warsaw must have a Copernicus complex. At present Poland spends just 7 million euro on space research – a little less than NASA’s budget of 16 billion dollars. But this hasn’t stopped parliamentarians from having sky high ambitions. takes up the story:

According to "Polska" daily newspaper, Polish deputies gathered in the Outer Space Team are planning to set up a national space agency, similar to the American NASA.

Poland participates in the PECS (Plan for European Cooperating State Charter) programme carried out by the European Space Agency, yet in this way Poland spends only a small fraction of all EU funds allocated for space research […]

The idea of a Polish space agency is supported by deputies from different political parties. Yet, the route to such an agency is very long, taking into account the fact that Poland does not even have its own satellite in space.
Well…quite. ‘Could take time’ as it ‘doesn’t even have a satellite...’

And I love the idea of there being a Polish parliamentary ‘Outer Space Team’!

Team? I thought the whole parliament was from out of this world.

Basically, this is Polish MPs trying to think of ways to get more money out of the EU. The whole of Poland is doing it. I am going to be working on a project this year to try and get some single currency out of Brussels. But it is a good idea, with a ‘social’ I’m entitled.

But what have the Poles been doing in 2007 with their 7 million euros? Fortunately, the same provides us with a summary of the year:

A discovery of an extrasolar planet, participation in astronomical projects, as well as numerous successes of Polish students within international educational projects make up only a part of a summary of the year 2007 as regards Polish astronomy.
But that’s good. Discovering planets is one of the Poles’ greatest talents. They are at the forefront of planet discovery, in fact. Maybe they just have good eyesight?

But I wonder if Polish astronomers this New Year did the same as those wacky guys last year.

In mid-January, on the occasion of the Grand Finale of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, the radiotelescope situated in Piwnice near Torun sent a radio signal to nearby stars with greetings to any extraterrestrial civilisations.
Wacky! Maybe the legacy of Copernicus has left stars in those Polish eyes.