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07-06-2024 09:19

The Chief Scientist visits NASA Headquarters for ceremony honouring Cypriot team “Brute Force”

Brute Force was awarded top prize in the NASA Space Apps Challenge

The Chief Scientist for Research, Innovation, and Technology of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Demetris Skourides, attended the prestigious NASA Space Apps Challenge award ceremony at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C., where the Cypriot team “Brute Force” was awarded the first prize.

The accolade marks a historic moment as it is the first time a Cypriot team has been honoured with an invitation to NASA Headquarters for an award ceremony.

“We are incredibly proud of the Cypriot team ‘Brute Force’ for their remarkable achievement in the NASA Space Apps Challenge,” Mr Skourides stated. “Their success is testament to the innovative spirit, technical expertise and research excellence that Cypriot scientists foster in the field of space, in pursuit of the ‘Cyprus Space Strategy 2022-2027’ formulated by the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy.”

The event recognised innovative solutions to real-world challenges using space data, with team “Brute Force” receiving the first prize for their Moonquake Map project out of 3094 projects from 162 countries. This project maps seismic events on the Moon to understand its internal structure, showcasing the technical expertise and innovative spirit of Cypriot talent. The team members are Constantinos Aristodemou, Marios Iacovou, Giorgos Evangelou and Panagiotis Theodorou. The competition is organised in Cyprus for the last 11 years by the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO), promoting innovation and entrepreneurship and creating a vibrant space ecosystem in our country.

Mr Skourides highlighted Cyprus' strategic position at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, which enhances its connectivity and elevates the Republic of Cyprus as a pivotal hub for space research and international cooperation. “Our vision is to leverage this strategic advantage, complemented by a world class research community and a sound innovation ecosystem that fosters solid relationships with European and global space agencies, research institutions and industry leaders,” he said.

During meetings with NASA stakeholders, including Mr Kent Bress, Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of International and Interagency Relations, and Dr Karen St. Germain, Earth Science Division Director, the Chief Scientist, accompanied by the President of CSEO, Mr Danos, elaborated on the 2022-2027 National Space Strategy, outlining Cyprus' commitment to strengthening the national space ecosystem with key pillars, including space technologies, space communication services, Earth observation, and space education and science.

Mr Skourides also introduced the Cyprus space ecosystem and key enablers, including the Eratosthenes Center of Excellence for Earth Observation & Environmental Change and CSEO, as well as the establishment of a Space Incubation Center to support and advance space-related business activity.

Key initiatives include supporting startups in the global space industry, promoting research and product commercialisation, developing satellite-based services and aiming for European Space Agency (ESA) Associate Membership by 2025.

Furthermore, during the meetings, the importance of Artificial Intelligence in space research, exploration for the sustainability of planet Earth and access to scientific data, tools supporting decision makers were also discussed with reference to use cases in the domains of farming and agriculture.

Recognising the transformative potential of the space sector, the Government of Cyprus has made substantial investments in research and development. One cornerstone initiative is the “Cyprus Space Research and Innovation Centre – C-SpaRC”, co-funded by the Research & Innovation Foundation (RIF), as a Strategic Infrastructure project which aims to establish a global facility in Cyprus to foster entrepreneurship and innovation and attract global talent and investment. During the discussion with Mr Bress and Dr St. Germain, Mr Skourides affirmed the government's support of C-SpaRC and potential cooperation with NASA in research and education in the areas of human health, space engineering, water resource management and ocean protection from space.

“CSEO has been instrumental in leading several innovative space projects, such as Project IN-TIME and Project EYE,” Mr. Skourides noted. “Their computational predictive modelling of space weather leverages advanced Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to spearhead scientific advancements."

Cyprus' strategic initiatives and the exceptional talent and dedication of its people position the country as a key contributor to advancements in space technology and science. The state’s unwavering commitment to this sector ensures that Cyprus continues to shine as a beacon of innovation and excellence in the global space community.