Greek astrophysicist Thanasis Economou, who was in Cyprus this week has said he was asked to contribute to the idea of creating an observatory in Cyprus and referred to the numerous benefits, especially for the youth.
“It is a very good idea and I promised to do everything I can so that there is a sky observatory in Cyprus, because this is an important project for many reasons, in particular for children`s education, who will become the future scientists and will be able to help their country,” he said in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency.
He said he was happy that the idea was welcomed by the government and President Nicos Anastasiades, saying: “I hope that the idea will soon become a reality”.
Asked if NASA would be involved in the observatory, Economou said that the observatory would be a local initiative but added that NASA does use other observations.
Economou said that the European Space Agency (ESA) could show interest in the sky observatory since Cyprus is planning a future accession to the body. CNA has learned that on July 6 this year Cyprus will sign the Cyprus European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement with the ESA.
The Greek astrophysicist, who, since the mid 1960s, has been building instruments for interplanetary spacecraft for various space agencies, like NASA and the ESA, was in Cyprus at the invitation of the Troodos Development Company and the community of Agridia in the Limassol District to give them guidelines regarding their plans to construct an observatory in the Troodos mountains area.
He also spoke to CNA about NASA’s manned mission to Mars saying it needed to further develop its technologies before sending astronauts to the Red Planet.
He expressed the view that a mission to Mars should rather be an international effort in order to cut the cost as well. NASA wants to send the first people to Mars in the 2030s.
Economou has received an award from NASA for his long-time contribution to space research.
He is associated with three robotic interplanetary missions: the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Cassini mission to Saturn, and the Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. He also participated in the now-complete Stardust mission to Comet Wild-2, and its redirected mission as Stardust-NExT to Comet Tempel 1. Economou also built the Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer that successfully performed the first chemical analysis of martian rocks aboard the Mars Pathfinder rover in 1997. (CNA)