Directors of three research institutes belonging to Eötvös Loránd Research Network elected

The Governing Board of the Eötvös Loránd Research Network has elected the directors of the three research institutes belonging to the research network that will become independent on April 1, 2021. In making its decisions, the Governing Board considered the reports of the ad hoc committees set up to assess the applications.

Newly appointed leaders:

Veterinary Medical Research Institute (VMRI): director Tibor Magyar, formerly director

Tibor Magyar is a doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, holds a PhD in veterinary science and is head of the Respiratory Bacteriology Group. His main scientific fields include veterinary microbiology, bacteriology, epidemiology, respiratory diseases and swine health.

Balaton Limnological Research Institute (BLKI): director Tibor Erős, formerly acting director

Tibor Erős is a certified biologist, doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and head of the Fish and Conservation Ecology Research Group of the institute. His main scientific fields include fish ecology, community ecology, nature conservation biology, biological water classification, monitoring.

Institute of Earth Physics and Space Sciences (FI): director Viktor Wesztergom, formerly acting director
Viktor Wesztergom is a certified geophysicist, specialist economist with a PhD in earth sciences, habilitated doctor, and honorary lecturer. His main scientific fields include geophysics, Sun-Earth physical relations, geomagnetism and electromagnetic deep structure research.

Directors of three research institutes belonging to Eötvös Loránd Research Network elected

The Governing Board of the Eötvös Loránd Research Network has elected the directors of the three research institutes belonging to the research network that will become independent on April 1, 2021. In making its decisions, the Governing Board considered the reports of the ad hoc committees set up to assess the applications.

Newly appointed leaders:

Veterinary Medical Research Institute (VMRI): director Tibor Magyar, formerly director

Tibor Magyar is a doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, holds a PhD in veterinary science and is head of the Respiratory Bacteriology Group. His main scientific fields include veterinary microbiology, bacteriology, epidemiology, respiratory diseases and swine health.

Balaton Limnological Research Institute (BLKI): director Tibor Erős, formerly acting director

Tibor Erős is a certified biologist, doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and head of the Fish and Conservation Ecology Research Group of the institute. His main scientific fields include fish ecology, community ecology, nature conservation biology, biological water classification, monitoring.

Institute of Earth Physics and Space Sciences (FI): director Viktor Wesztergom, formerly acting director
Viktor Wesztergom is a certified geophysicist, specialist economist with a PhD in earth sciences, habilitated doctor, and honorary lecturer. His main scientific fields include geophysics, Sun-Earth physical relations, geomagnetism and electromagnetic deep structure research.

Hungarian Mosquito Surveillance project: CER launches new research project using the citizen science method to support the prevention of possible future epidemics

There is no question that online interfaces providing real-time information on the evolution of the pandemic have proved very useful during the coronavirus epidemic. There are many websites presenting domestic and international data and statistics related to the epidemic visually as graphs, charts and maps. This information has helped the population to assess emergency situations and also helped support decision-makers in developing appropriate protection strategies. The www.szunyogmonitor.hu website will be launched on April 1 (an English version at mosquitosurveillance.hu will also be available soon) with the help of researchers from the ELKH Centre for Ecological Research (CER). As part the Hungarian Mosquito Surveillance project (Szúnyogmonitor) project, the site has been further developed by the researchers with the aim of using the ‘citizen science’ method to help map the domestic spread of invasive mosquito species that spread pathogens and viruses which are dangerous to humans.

Climate change and the increase in global trade has meant that many invasive species have entered Europe in recent decades, including Hungary. One of the detrimental effects of the appearance of these species is that they can spread the pathogens of a variety of diseases, posing a health threat as a result. In assessing these threats, it is vital to have a scientifically sound, accurate picture of any ecological processes that prevent epidemics from impacting our societies.

There are a total of 50 indigenous species of mosquito native to Hungary. However, in the last ten years three new invasive species have arrived that are capable of spreading the pathogens of many diseases – various viruses and nematodes – which are potentially dangerous to humans and domestic animals. The first step to preventing potential epidemics is to find out in which areas of the country invasive mosquito species are found, how they spread, when they appear, and whether they carry the pathogens of different diseases. This monitoring activity is a huge technical challenge, as researchers have to map the distribution of invasive species on an annual basis. To increase the effectiveness of this work, the researchers sought the help of the public.

 

Citizen science is an approach that has been on the rise in recent decades and is increasingly popular in international scientific research. Advances in science have made it possible to use increasingly sophisticated and advanced precision measuring instruments. However, at least as important is the collection of large amounts of data, and the public can be of great help in this.

Researchers in Hungarian Mosquito Surveillance project already turned to the citizen science method last year to observe a dangerous species of mosquito. When the population thought they had discovered an invasive mosquito species, they sent photos or captured specimens for the researchers, who identified them by scientific methods, validated the samples, and finally presented a static map of the spread on a website. With the help of the data visualization development team of the Koronamonitor (Corona Monitor) website, the project has now been given a much more modern interface. Engaging infographic representations can now be used to observe data on the distribution and activity of invasive mosquito species in time and space, including by county. It is vital that as many people as possible are made aware of the interface, as this can increase the public’s willingness to participate in this modern and socially useful research project, and at the same time increase the volume of data submitted.

According to the researchers, it is also important to take into account the results of the Hungarian Mosquito Surveillance project when considering the practicalities of mosquito control. This is because if the authorities plan to eradicate them due to an epidemiological threat or invasive mosquitoes, it is advisable to eradicate these species where they are actually present. On the other hand, if a mosquito control program that burdens the environment is carried out without taking into account the actual spread of the target species, a large area of the country will be sprayed with harmful pesticides unnecessarily.

The ecological concept behind the Hungarian Mosquito Surveillance project is that the problem should not be treated after an epidemic has already spread, but rather that the necessary preventative steps should be taken based on the appropriate ecological diagnosis, before an epidemic occurs. “The modern epidemiological control strategy is based on ecological monitoring, which is more effective, and lowers the risk of an epidemic and also the chance that human diseases will have to be mapped in the future. In terms of researchers for this purpose, there are only a few of us, but as it turned out last year, there are more people who are willing to help.” This was how László Zsolt Garamszegi, director of the CER Institute of Ecology and Botany, senior researcher at the Hungarian Mosquito Surveillance project, summed up the significance of the project.

The project is aided significantly by the completion of a mobile app (MosquitoAlert) that enables users to contribute to the research by uploading images and various other information.

SZTAKI researchers build 3D-printed robotic arm

A four-part video series showcases a 3D-printed robotic arm built by the researchers at the SZTAKI Research Laboratory for Engineering & Management Intelligence. The robot, built mainly for educational purposes, has been integrated into SZTAKI’s SmartFactory system.

The robotic arm was built by Kristóf Abai (system development engineer), Zsóka Keszthelyi (software developer) and Richárd Beregi (research engineer). The series focuses on their work and the steps the took to develop the robot. During the first episode, they talk about the problems and difficulties they had to overcome – in front of the already built robot.

The second episode is about the construction of the robot’s grabber from 3D-printed parts and metal screws. The third episode is about the wiring and construction of the arm itself, while the fourth and final episode showcases the robot’s implementation and operation as part of the SmartFactory system.

The series also breaks down the cost of building such a device, while also explaining why it is important to create further freely available designs for certain tasks. The researchers are also planning to publish further information on their robot.

English subtitles are available for non-Hungarian speakers.

 

 

 

 

ATK researchers prove that preliminary heat hardening effectively improves heat tolerance of young cereals

Climate change, including global warming, may increase the frequency and severity of many physiological stressors, including periods of extreme high temperature. All this can significantly reduce the yield of cultivated crops. Based on the trends of recent years, the plant-damaging effects of high temperatures must be increasingly taken into account in Hungary as well, either as an independent factor or in combination with other stressors. In search of an answer to the problem, researchers at the Agricultural Institute of the ELKH Centre for Agricultural Research – lead by Éva Darkó and Tibor Janda – studied the effects of preliminary heat acclimation on the heat tolerance of various cereals. The researchers demonstrated that  heat acclimatization of young  wheat, barley, and oats plants effectively improves their tolerance to a subsequent high-temperature stress. The study on this topic has been published in the journal Physiologia Plantarum.

High temperatures are among the most important abiotic stressors and can limit plant development in many parts of the world, thereby causing significant economic damage. Globally, heat stress reduces wheat yields by at least 15%. High temperatures also affect various physiological, biochemical and molecular processes in plants.

It is known that preliminary treatment with moderately high temperatures (heat acclimatization) can provide protection against subsequent extreme high temperature stress. This process is known as acquired thermal tolerance. While the damage caused by heat stress has been widely investigated, the mechanism of heat acclimatization is less known.  A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of heat acclimatization is important also from a practical point of view, as these results may contribute to the production of heat-tolerant genotypes.

 

The effect of heat treatment on the actual quantum efficiency and the temperature dependence of photochemical and non-photochemical quenching parameters in cereals. Schematic figure. C: control, untreated; HA: heat-acclimatized; Y (II): actual quantum efficiency; Y (NPQ: regulated non-photochemical quenching; (Y (NO) unregulated non-photochemical quenching.

Researchers at the Department of Plant Physiology of the ATK Institute of Agriculture have demonstrated that some heat tolerant genotypes are able to increase transpiration at the acclimatization temperature while the rate of net carbon assimilation was not reduced. They have also  demonstrated that tolerant genotypes are capable of faster stoma closure than heat-sensitive ones at subsequent high temperature stress. Heat acclimatization also involved a number of defense mechanisms, including the induction of antioxidant enzymes. The role of polyamines in the development of acquired heat tolerance remained uncertain: recent results showed that the conversion of different polyamines through the polyamine cycle is more important in the development of acquired heat tolerance than their absolute quantity.

In addition, the researchers studied development of several growth regulators and plant hormones, during heat treatment. Quantitative changes to some growth regulators (salicylic acid, auxin, abscisic acid) and their related compounds (para-hydroxybenzoic acid, phaseic acid and dihydrophaseic acid) deviated significantly in the studied genotypes. The results of various stress-dependent parameters suggested that, in addition to some similarities in responses to elevated temperatures, plants evolved different  strategies to reduce the adverse effects of high temperatures. Detailed metabolomic analysis on autumn and spring barley and oat cultivars also showed significant differences between both species and cultivars. The researchers were able to isolate and detect a number of compounds, including sugars, organic acids, amino acids, and sugar alcohols. Certain specific pathways, such as the induction of oligosaccharides belonging to the raffinose family and the synthesis of galactinol, are also likely to contribute to increased heat tolerance in cereals.

Researchers are looking for answers to further questions in the future: they want to explore, among others, whether exposure to elevated temperatures themselves can be stressful, especially at a young age. They also plan to study the changes in the stress-inducing effects of heat treatment as a function of time and other environmental factors, such as light. As the adaptation of the whole plant and individual organs may be different, it is also necessary to investigate in detail the role of the root and the crown, for example. The stress response also depends on the developmental phase, so further research is also needed to determine whether differences between heat treatment processes and genotypes are also manifested in adult plants.

The research was carried out within the framework of a project supported by the European Union and the Hungarian Government. Significant support for the research was also provided by the state-subsidized metabolomics laboratory recently set up at ATK, on which further information is provided here.

‘Heat map’ and principal component analysis of metabolite changes in different barley and oat genotypes

Changes in metabolic processes of different barley and oat genotypes under the influence of elevated temperature

Section of the ATK MGI Metabolomics Laboratory

Eörs Szathmáry elected as a foreign member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has elected Eörs Szathmáry, Director General of the Centre for Ecological Research at the Eötvös Loránd Research Network, as a foreign member. The evolutionary biologist now can join other Hungarian foreign members like the mathematician Péter Lax and Endre Szemerédi and the botanist Tamás Pócs.

The Oslo based Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, founded in 1857, is a non-governmental, nationwide body which embraces all fields of science. Its main purpose is to support the advancement of science and scholarship in Norway. The Academy has approximately 900 Norwegian and foreign members in two sections: Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and Humanities and Social Sciences. New members are elected and invited by the actual members. The Academy is also responsible for awarding the Abel Prize in mathematics – considered to be the Nobel Prize for mathematicians – and the Kavli Prize in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.

The Széchenyi Prize winner evolutionary biologist Eörs Szathmáry is a full member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, professor at the Institute of Biology of the Eötvös Loránd University and member of the Academia Europaea, specializing in theoretical revolutionary biology. This is not the first prestigious recognition in his career: he was elected as a life member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in July, 2020.

Researchers at the Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics have automated the transfer of a database of Hungarian prisoners of Soviet camps, published in February this year, to the Hungarian language

After several decades, Russia finally provided Hungary with data on Hungarian prisoners of war and civilian deportees in 2019. Once the data of approximately 682,000 persons had been processed, the database operated by the National Archives of Hungary was made available on February 25 this year. The database can now be considered complete, making it a significant resource for research. It is also a significant resource for the general public, as anyone interested can now access the available information to find family members and loved ones who were imprisoned in Soviet camps. The automated transfer of the Cyrillic database to Hungarian was carried out by researchers of the ELKH Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics (NYTK), under the leadership of Bálint Sass.

In 2019, the National Archives of Hungary purchased from the Russian State Military Archives a digitized, scanned image of cards that contained the basic details of approximately 682,000 Hungarian prisoners of war and deported civilians, as well as the database produced from these cards. The cards and database contain the key details of the person concerned: the surname and first name of the person registered as a prisoner, their paternal first name (as patronymic is customary in Russia), rank, place and date of birth, place and date of imprisonment, date of departure and camp they were discharged from, as well as the date of death, if the person lost their life.

Naturally, everything on the cards is written in Cyrillic, not only the information in the Russian language, but also in Hungarian, such as the surname, first name, and some elements of the geographical locations – such as the place of birth and site of captivity. A linguistic issue arose during processing of this data. The Hungarian-language personal details that had been dictated by the Hungarian prisoners were made available in Cyrillic, in the format that the recording soldier – usually a Russian – had written down after hearing these details. In addition, the data were further distorted when, during the 2010s, Russian workers compiled a database on the basis of these cards. The problem was they were entering data based on a 70-year-old handwritten Cyrillic version of Hungarian words – a language that they did not understand.

Most of the data processing work, including manual translations, were done by the staff of the National Archives of Hungary. The automated Russian-Hungarian transcription and restoration of personal names and geographic locations were the tasks performed by the staff of NYTK under the leadership of Bálint Sass, based on verification and feedback from the Archives. The task was to implement the transcription of, for example, “Ковач Йожеф → Kovács József”. The difficulty was that, due to distortions, letter-to-letter matching provided the correct solution in only the rarest of cases. There were many cases which were difficult to produce an algorithm for, such as: Цилбауер → Zielbauer (a surname), Дейло → Béla (a first name), Саотморской → Szatmár, Гонграмеде → Csongrád (county names), or Кишкупфьилстьгаза → Kiskunfélegyháza (a city). In many cases, there were several possible solutions that were all equally likely. In this case, it was no longer possible or worthwhile to select them in an automated way. For example: Эрин → Ernő; Ervin; Erik (a first name).

Details of the works can be found in a lecture given at this year’s Conference on Hungarian Computational Linguistics and in the related publication, as well as in a lecture given at the 2020 Hungarian Science Festival. The automatic transcription and restoration tool can be found on github. All are available in Hungarian.

It is worth watching the edition of the television show Ez itt a kérdés (This is the question – in Hungarian) on February 22, 2021, starting at the 13th minute. In the archive footage played in the show, a former prisoner of war recalls how much it all depends on whether a person is listed as Hegyi or possibly Gegyi – as the h-g swap is one of the most typical misspellings. This short excerpt illustrates the linguistic problem that the staff of the Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics undertook to address.The freely searchable public database, which opened on February 25, 2021, the Memorial Day for the Victims of Communism, is available – currently in Hungarian – on the website of the National Archives of Hungary.

László Lovász was awarded the Abel Prize

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has awarded the 2021 Abel Prize to László Lovász and Avi Wigderson “for their foundational contributions to theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics, and their leading role in shaping them into central fields of modern mathematics”. László Lovász is an emeritus professor of Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest, Hungary). Currently he is leading the research group DYNASNET at the ELKH Rényi Institute, supported by a Synergy grant of the European Research Council.

The theory of ‘computational complexity’ – which concerns itself with the speed and efficiency of algorithms – was in its infancy in the 1970s, and is now an established field of both mathematics and theoretical computer science. Computational complexity has become important, providing the theoretical basis for internet security. Also in the 1970s a new generation of mathematicians realised that discrete mathematics had, in computer science, a new area of application. Today algorithms and internet security aspects are an integral part of everyday life for all of us. The work of László Lovász and Avi Wigderson has played an important part of this development.

“Lovász and Wigderson have been leading forces in this development over the last decades. Their work interlaces in many ways, and, in particular, they have both made fundamental contributions to understanding randomness in computation and in exploring the boundaries of efficient computation,” says Hans Munthe-Kaas, chair of the Abel committee.

He continues: “Thanks to the leadership of these two, discrete mathematics and the relatively young field of theoretical computer science are now established as central areas of modern mathematics.”

László Lovász

A brilliant mathematician since he was a teenager, László Lovász more than delivered on his early promise. His work has established connections between discrete mathematics and computer science. Born in 1948 in Budapest, Hungary, he has also served his community as a writer of books, noted for their clarity and accessibility, as an inspirational lecturer, and as a leader, spending a term as president of the International Mathematical Union (2007-2010).

In the 1970s graph theory became one of the first areas of pure mathematics able to illuminate the new field of computational complexity. One of the major impacts of Lovasz’s work has been to establish ways in which discrete mathematics can address fundamental theoretical questions in computer science. He later said that he was very lucky to experience one of those periods when mathematics was developing completely together with an application area.

In addition to his work on the foundational underpinning of computer science, Lovász has also devised powerful algorithms with wide-ranging applications. One of these, the LLL algorithm, named after Lovász and the brothers Arjen and Hendrik Lenstra, represented a conceptual breakthrough in the understanding of lattices, and which has had remarkable applications in areas including number theory, cryptography and mobile computing. Currently, the only known encryption systems that can withstand an attack by a quantum computer are based on the LLL algorithm.

Lovász has won many awards including the 1999 Wolf Prize, the 1999 Knuth Prize, the 2001 Gödel Prize and the 2010 Kyoto Prize.

László Lovász, Photo credit: László Mudra/MTA

Avi Wigderson

Wigderson is known for his ability to see links between apparently unrelated areas. He has deepened the connections between mathematics and computer science. He was born in Haifa, Israel, in 1956. His contribution to enlarging and deepening the field of ‘complexity theory’ – which concerns itself with the speed and efficiency of algorithms – is arguably greater than that of any single other person.

Wigderson has conducted research into every major open problem in complexity theory. In many ways, the field has grown around him. He has co-authored papers with more than 100 people. He has deepened the connections between mathematics and computer science.

The most important present-day application of complexity theory is internet cryptography. Early in his career Wigderson made fundamental contributions in this area, including the zero-knowledge proof, which today is being used in cryptocurrency technology.

In 1994, Wigderson won the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize for computer science. Among his many other prizes is the 2009 Gôdel Prize and the 2019 Knuth Prize.

About the Abel Prize

  • The honoring of the Abel Prize laureates will be announced later.
  • The Abel Prize is funded by the Norwegian Government and consists of MNOK 7.5.
  • The prize is awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
  • The choice of the Abel laureates is based on the recommendation of the Abel Committee, which is composed of five internationally recognized mathematicians.

For more information, please visit www.abelprize.no

More information about the outstanding work of László Lovász

Mathematicians are usually characterized either as problem-solvers or theory-builders. László Lovász is both. He has solved several hard problems in combinatorics that had been open for a long time: the perfect graph conjecture in 1972, the chromatic number of Kneser graphs in 1978, the Shannon capacity of graphs in 1979 – just to name a few. His ingenious solutions were often based on ideas inspired by seemingly unrelated mathematical areas. For example, in the case of the Kneser graphs he used topological methods, thereby laying the foundations of topological combinatorics, a novel area of research.

Similarly, the ideas he used for determining the Shannon capacity of graphs led to the theory of semidefinite programming. Furthermore, the Lovász local lemma, which relaxes the independence condition in the application of probabilistic methods in combinatorics, has been used extensively since its invention in 1973.

Lovász was an early champion of the mathematical theory of algorithms. He published a book on this subject with Péter Gács in 1978 in Hungarian. Together with the Lenstra brothers Arjen and Hendrik, he invented the LLL lattice base reduction algorithm, which has been used for a great variety of purposes: for factoring polynomials, for disproving the Mertens conjecture, and more recently in cryptography.

To demonstrate his theory-building accomplishments, it is enough present the long list of books written by him: Combinatorial problems and exercises (1979), Matching theory (with M. Plummer, 1986), An algorithmic theory of numbers, graphs, and convexity (1986), Geometric algorithms and combinatorial optimization (with M. Grötschel and A. Schrijver, 1988), Greedoids (with B. Korte and R. Schrader, 1991), Discrete mathematics: elementary and beyond (with J. Pelikán and K. Vesztergombi, 2003), Large networks and graph limits (2012), Graphs and geometry (2019).

The theory of graph limits, which he developed in collaboration with C. Borgs, J. Chayes, B. Szegedy, V.T. Sós, and K. Vesztergombi, also serves as the mathematical foundation for his current research on the dynamics of networks. The investigations of his research group have relevance for mathematical modelling of disease propagation that can be used in controlling the recent pandemic.

As the citation from the Norwegian Academy emphasized, Lovász had a leading role in elevating the field of discrete mathematics from an isolated, sometimes even disregarded area to one of the central branches of modern mathematics. When he started research in graph theory, this area was considered by many leading mathematicians as a collection of problems, some of which perhaps interesting and difficult, but which lack significance for the really important parts of mathematics. Now, as the laudation of this year’s Abel Prize winners aptly formulated, discrete mathematics has taken its deserved place as one of the fundamental branches of mathematics.

For most of his career László Lovász was a professor at Eötvös University in Budapest, but he has spent considerable time at other institutions: at the University of Szeged, at Yale University and at Microsoft Research. Lovász is not only an outstanding mathematician, but he did a great job at serving the scientific community as the president of the International Mathematical Union (2007-2010) and the president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (2014-2020).

The Centre for Energy Research participates in the construction of the Lunar Gateway space station

Mankind has decided to take another big step in the conquest and utilization of outer space. In the mid-2020s, in international collaboration, a space station will be built in orbit around the Moon, called the Gateway.

The TRITEL dosimeter, developed in the Space Research Department of the ELKH Centre for Energy Research, will be one of the components of the space station’s Internal Dosimeter Array (IDA), which has recently been approved by the European Space Agency.

The main goal is to protect astronauts

IDA will measure the dose and characteristics of ionizing radiation passing through and generated in the space station’s Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) as a function of time. Given that astronauts will be exposed to radiation on board the space station on average 250 times more a year than on the Earth’s surface, radiation dose measurement is of paramount importance for their health. Using measurement data from the European Radiation Sensors Array (ERSA) located on the external platform of the Gateway, it will be possible to examine how effectively the wall of the space station also provides protection against radiation from space.

A TRITEL dosimeter, credits: Centre for Energy Research

In addition to TRITEL being Hungary’s contribution to the space station around the Moon, ESA has invited the Centre for Energy Research (CER) to develop and breadboard the IDA central unit in the frame of direct negotiation. This will be the (interface) unit through which the detectors of the IDA system are connected to the power supply and communication system of the space station. The prototype of the IDA central unit and the TRITEL dose measurement system will be manufactured by REMRED Ltd., a space company founded by the Centre for Energy Research.

The Gateway

The Gateway will be a third-quarter the size of the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting the Earth for more than twenty years and will not be permanently inhabited, but will play an important role in future human missions landing on the surface of the Moon.

The station, however, is not a destination but a milestone on the road to the human Mars journey. The experience gained in the area around the Moon is intended to be used in future missions to Mars, thus ensuring the health and safety of astronauts.

The space station, which will weight nearly 40 tons, will orbit the Moon flying as close as 3000 km from the lunar surface and at its furthest, 70 000 km.

Gateway concept, credits: ESA

More than 40 years of experience

Hungary joined the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2015, and in 2019, at the ESA Ministerial Council, among other optional programs, joined the space agency’s Human and Robotic Exploration optional program. Hungary has more than four decades of experience in studying the radiation exposure of astronauts in space. At the Centre for Energy Research (formerly KFKI and MTA KFKI AEKI), a number of active and non-powered, so-called passive dose measurement systems were developed, with which measurements were made on board human spacecraft and satellites. Last year, it was forty years since the first Hungarian-developed dose measuring instrument, the Pille, ascended into space, with which astronaut Bertalan Farkas made measurements on board the Saljut-6 space station. As part of U.S., ESA, and Russian collaborations, various versions of the system have since reached a number of spacecraft. The latest version of the Pille, as part of the Russian segment’s service system, has been operating continuously and reliably on board the ISS since 2003. Most recently, another Pille was put into service on the ISS in June 2018. CER has also been participating in ESA’s DOSIS and DOSIS-3D dose mapping programs in the European Columbus research module with passive dosimeters since 2009, as well as in the Columbus and Russian Zvezda modules with its silicon detector dosimeter system TRITEL.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov in the Zvezda Service Modul of ISS with the TRITEL instrument, source: NASA

The Centre for Energy Research participates in the construction of the Lunar Gateway space station

Mankind has decided to take another big step in the conquest and utilization of outer space. In the mid-2020s, in international collaboration, a space station will be built in orbit around the Moon, called the Gateway.

The TRITEL dosimeter, developed in the Space Research Department of the ELKH Centre for Energy Research, will be one of the components of the space station’s Internal Dosimeter Array (IDA), which has recently been approved by the European Space Agency.

The main goal is to protect astronauts

IDA will measure the dose and characteristics of ionizing radiation passing through and generated in the space station’s Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) as a function of time. Given that astronauts will be exposed to radiation on board the space station on average 250 times more a year than on the Earth’s surface, radiation dose measurement is of paramount importance for their health. Using measurement data from the European Radiation Sensors Array (ERSA) located on the external platform of the Gateway, it will be possible to examine how effectively the wall of the space station also provides protection against radiation from space.

A TRITEL dosimeter, credits: Centre for Energy Research

In addition to TRITEL being Hungary’s contribution to the space station around the Moon, ESA has invited the Centre for Energy Research (CER) to develop and breadboard the IDA central unit in the frame of direct negotiation. This will be the (interface) unit through which the detectors of the IDA system are connected to the power supply and communication system of the space station. The prototype of the IDA central unit and the TRITEL dose measurement system will be manufactured by REMRED Ltd., a space company founded by the Centre for Energy Research.

The Gateway

The Gateway will be a third-quarter the size of the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting the Earth for more than twenty years and will not be permanently inhabited, but will play an important role in future human missions landing on the surface of the Moon.

The station, however, is not a destination but a milestone on the road to the human Mars journey. The experience gained in the area around the Moon is intended to be used in future missions to Mars, thus ensuring the health and safety of astronauts.

The space station, which will weight nearly 40 tons, will orbit the Moon flying as close as 3000 km from the lunar surface and at its furthest, 70 000 km.

Gateway concept, credits: ESA

More than 40 years of experience

Hungary joined the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2015, and in 2019, at the ESA Ministerial Council, among other optional programs, joined the space agency’s Human and Robotic Exploration optional program. Hungary has more than four decades of experience in studying the radiation exposure of astronauts in space. At the Centre for Energy Research (formerly KFKI and MTA KFKI AEKI), a number of active and non-powered, so-called passive dose measurement systems were developed, with which measurements were made on board human spacecraft and satellites. Last year, it was forty years since the first Hungarian-developed dose measuring instrument, the Pille, ascended into space, with which astronaut Bertalan Farkas made measurements on board the Saljut-6 space station. As part of U.S., ESA, and Russian collaborations, various versions of the system have since reached a number of spacecraft. The latest version of the Pille, as part of the Russian segment’s service system, has been operating continuously and reliably on board the ISS since 2003. Most recently, another Pille was put into service on the ISS in June 2018. CER has also been participating in ESA’s DOSIS and DOSIS-3D dose mapping programs in the European Columbus research module with passive dosimeters since 2009, as well as in the Columbus and Russian Zvezda modules with its silicon detector dosimeter system TRITEL.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov in the Zvezda Service Modul of ISS with the TRITEL instrument, source: NASA