1999

The Foundation supported five projects in 1999, including three expeditions in Africa, a glacier study in Norway, and the construction of hydrogen vehicles. Total foundation support was $1,500

Test Construction of Hydrogen Vehicles
Category : Use of space technologies to improve living conditions on Earth
Institution : Tennessee State University, USA

Since the 1970′s, Tennessee State University has been engaged in developing alternative fuels for vehicles to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and also to promote public interest and understanding of these technologies. In so far as exploration is concerned, the first hydrogen using vehicle built by the team beat the hydrogen powered land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1994. The group has taken a distinctly exploration approach to their work. They are currently working on downsizing the electrolytic units used in the Space Shuttle to produce cleaner sources of hydrogen that can be used in their cars. The vehicles produced by the team are routinely toured to different parks and fairs to stimulate public scientific interest in these new modes of transport. This award was to support these efforts.

Making a living from local butterflies and saving forest
Category: Use of space technology to study Earth’s environments
Various : UK and Kenya

The Arabuko-Sokoke forest is one of the last remaining large tracts of coastal forest in Kenya. It is now the focus of an intensive conservation effort. In order to realize this goal, sustainable methods are being implemented in the forest. The forest edge residents are farming butterflies and have been earning profits from this activity giving them a direct reason to conserve the area, whilst at the same time realizing their economic objectives. These butterflies are used for research, to stock parks and other attractions around the world. This project investigated the butterflies of the forest in order to gather critical baseline information that may help strengthen this approach to conserving the forest. GPS and other related technologies was used. Focus was given to the genus Charaxes, one of the primary genera in the forest and one of the genera used in the farming efforts.

Tour of Europe and Africa to educate students about space
Category : Education linking Earth and space exploration
Institution : Independent, USA

The primary goal of this project is that of educating students around the world about the benefits of space as a resource, the search for life elsewhere, and the exploration of Mars. While attending the United Nations UNISPACE III Conference during the summer of 1999, the need for such a program became even more apparent to the applicant and the connections for making it a reality materialized. The grantee, Kevin Hand, decided to launch his own global education program. The awardee traveled into Africa where educating students about space as a resource for remote sensing data may one day help them improve the living conditions in their country. The result of his expedition was the establishment of a new Foundation : Cosmos Education.

Mapping the world’s great ice sheets
Category: Use of space technology to study Earth’s environments
Institution : Queen’s University, Ireland

Ice plateaus are vast areas of frozen ice. Unlike many ice masses in the north, they are neither in retreat or advance and little is known about their characteristics and how they contribute to the glaciology of the north. As well as improving our basic understanding of the structure and characteristics of these features, improved information can help to define what role these plateaus have in global climatic change, either natural or human-induced. The team from Queen’s University in Ireland used GPS in conjunction with ground based cores and deep temperature readings to map two of these plateaus in Norway, Balgesvarri and Jiek’kevarri. This work provided the first insights into the nature of high altitude ice plateaus and was critically dependent upon satellite-based technologies.

Use of Geographical Information System (GIS) to Map Bat-rousting Sites in the Comores, Africa
Category: Use of space technology to study Earth’s environments
Institution : University of Arizona, USA and Action Comores, UK

Developing reliable methods to make population estimates is essential for assessing endangered species as well as for proper monitoring of any other species of economic importance.

In a collaboration between the College of Ecosystem Science and Management in the School of Forestry, University of Arizona and Action Comores in Nottingham, UK and institutions in the Comores, this project used GPS to develop a geographical information system of the fruit bat, Pteropus livingstonii. The purpose is to use the bat as a model system for improving the efficacy of using GIS systems to predict the habitats of animals. GIS (Geographical Information Systems) are used to plot biological information on geographic templates in a variety of ways. Often they depend upon accurate satellite positioning of the information. The bat is critically endangered and current estimates put ~500 individuals remaining.

As well as mapping the existing animals, the GIS system was used to make predictions on where bats may be roosting based on habitat information. These predictions were tested using field observations. The development of such GIS based prediction systems may be used for many other animals and ecosystem management.