A Space Awareness Initiative
Dinis S A Ribeiro

Companhia Espacial Portuguesa, Lda.

Richard Clar
Art Technologies,

Updated January 2012

The way we seek to cultivate a deeper general public awareness about various water-related issues has evolved from a top-down approach to a different bottom-up development strategy, emphasizing public participation, grass-root efforts, and the use of the “citizen science” paradigm for the gathering and sharing of data.

One of the goals of Companhia Espacial Portuguesa is to continue to refine the design of a scientific research and technology development platform that is illustrated by the mock-up, which can be launched once a year by a sounding rocket into a suborbital flight. Initially focusing on microgravity research about water behaviour (liquid bridges, sloshing, and other fluid dynamics experiments), its scope has evolved into new specialized areas involving bio-reactors, novel geometries for micro-fluidics, Nanotechnology, Biomimicry, and 3D Printing.

On the first flight of this reusable research platform among other scientific experiments, the “ALMA da AGUA” art work will be performed, and the creation of the ephemeral water “sculpture,” consisting of a “Sphere of Lusophone Water,” will also yield useful calibration data and provide a proof of concept for a number of technical innovations.

Although at this time, there are no plans for establishing a space agency in Portugal, a greater scientific and technical cooperation among Portuguese-speaking countries, particularly in oceanography, can still be fostered using the basic design of the technology development research platform, whose main components are illustrated by the mock-up.

The same basic design is expected to be used in environmental monitoring in underwater instrument platforms in rivers and oceans, as well as balloons in near-space.


The launch of a commemorative sounding rocket carrying a space art payload will herald the creation of the Portuguese Space Agency. While addressing the technical aspects we will articulate the “ALMA da AGUA” payload with ongoing projects from Companhia Espacial Portuguesa Lda, namely its instrumentation department and the AEPOR project. Water management issues in their variety illustrate well the complexity of effectively using space technology as a tool for development. The diplomatic coordination efforts needed in order to have eight countries in very different stages of development, to link together and have a simultaneous international event, will provide opportunities to train the staff of the Portuguese Space Agency.


This space awareness initiative is not limited to the launch of the payload on a sounding rocket. Water resources management is an issue of great importance to the various Portuguese-speaking Countries. These are Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guiné-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé e Príncipe, and East Timor. There are many different organizations that are important for water management, such as the International Water Resources Association (IWRA), and international projects such as the World Meteorological Organization Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WMO-HYCOS). This field implies a broad interdisciplinary approach to a particularly wide variety of issues. These problems are key to the economic development and well-being of large populations, and must be addressed through a collaborative effort using various tools including space technology. ALMA da AGUA or “Soul of the Water” in English, is an interdisciplinary space art project that seeks to involve various institutions within the PSC (Portuguese-Speaking Countries). The project addresses metaphorically the possibility of greater technical unification and deeper collaboration of Portuguese speaking countries and celebrates their common bond of language, thus helping to create a greater awareness to facilitate the launch of future collaborative efforts.

ALMA da AGUA begins with the gathering of natural source water samples from all of the eight Portuguese-speaking countries. The individual water samples are to be carried into space aboard a Brazilian sounding rocket (Sonda III) where the samples will be exposed to low-gravity in order to mix the waters in a “new way” and in a “different environment”. During space flight, in a highly symbolic gesture, the waters will be combined by the action of several apparatuses. A video camera and downlink antenna integrated into the payload will provide live coverage of the waters floating in zero-g and mixing in space. After an ocean splashdown, the mixed-waters payload of ALMA da AGUA will be recovered by helicopter to be divided in eight equal samples and returned to each departure point at cultural ceremonies in each of the participating countries. These ceremonies will contribute to a greater awareness in all Portuguese-speaking countries of the role that space technology can have in water management, from flood control (using early warning systems) to environmental control of water resources (using a network of low cost sensors). The creation of a permanent group of water technicians using a dedicated computer network connecting the eight countries is a key outcome of this initiative.

The ALMA da AGUA sounding rocket payload was being planned for launch in October 2000 during the 51st IAF Congress in Rio de Janeiro. It was hoped that the live coverage of the flight could be presented during the Congress in addition to a world-wide Internet web cast. This event is now currently scheduled for 2002. This space awareness initiative is the fruit of a collaboration initiated by Richard Clar of Art Technologies (AT) and Dinis Ribeiro of Companhia Espacial Portuguesa, Lda. (CEP).

Goals of the Project

There is a dual purpose for the payload, first: the commemoration of Portugal joining the European Space Agency and second: the launch of systematic technical cooperation among all Portuguese speaking countries so that before the end of 2005, a space cooperation agreement focused on using space technology tools for humanitarian purposes, can be in effect.

Portuguese Space Activities

As the most recent member of ESA, Portugal has the possibility to benefit from all the accumulated experiences of the other 14 member states. But it also has the responsibility to include in its activities some of the potential conceptual advances2 on "how to run a space program" that decades of pioneering efforts from many countries have yielded.

Initially, ALMA da AGUA began as a space art project. However, due to the international scope of its activities, and the potential humanitarian implications, it became gradually interwoven with the ongoing creation of the Portuguese Space Agency (AEPOR). Now, this awareness initiative aims strongly at creating specific follow-ups: The A.L.M.A. organization and its associated computer network.

Portugal has lagged behind many other countries in developing space activities, and there are still some disperse and un-coordinated efforts. Activities have tended to be very "centrifugal" with highly specialized individuals excelling here and there, but without a clear national goal. The oceans3 have slowly emerged as a common ground, and as a possible unifying theme for all Portuguese space projects. Yet, all the oceans, in their vastness, are also part of something bigger: the hydrological cycle.

There is some interest in developing small payloads of interdisciplinary nature that would promote the idea of the possibility of fusion, or at least of a greater unification of efforts.

Birth of a Concept

In 1999, during the IAF conference in Amsterdam the authors of this paper met when CEP was displaying pictures from the ALMA prototype apparatus developed by Instrumentation Technology Associates Inc. On this system, the A.L.M.A. device (Acceleration-induced Liquid Mixing Apparatus) uses external forces, the launch g-load, to be able to mix two liquids inside a vial.
Since the year 2000 marked the passing of 500 years since the discovery of Brazil by Portugal took place, initially the idea was simply to mix Portuguese and Brazilian water samples from natural sources or main rivers. However, upon reflection, it was considered that several other countries also speak the Portuguese language and these other countries actually have quite serious difficulties related to many different water management issues.

The EARTHSTAR project4 was then presented whereby ceramic artifacts would be created using soil samples gathered from specific countries engaged, or recently engaged, in armed conflict. These soil samples combined are to be incorporated into the thermal protection system of a recoverable spacecraft and fused together in space by the heat generated during re-entry. On Earth, a pentagonal star is described with a radius of 3, 207 km from the center-point in Crete. On each of the five vertices, a marker is placed located by using GPS. The rays emanating from the center-point in Crete to the vertices extend through regions of armed conflict. The ceramic artifact created in space will be installed in Crete during a ceremony celebrating the culture of the countries engaged in armed conflict.
In the midst of discussion, a hybrid idea gradually emerged. There was an analogy between the concept of having the molten ceramics mixing together under the reentry heat, and the idea of water samples mixing in reduced gravity. Both are new materials in a new environment. There were humanitarian concerns with both ideas as well. EARTHSTAR sought support from UNESCO through the “Culture of Peace Programme” where the objective is to ensure that the conflicts inherent in human relationships be resolved non-violently, based on the traditional values of peace. In some ways the Alma da Agua initiative is like an EARTHSTAR II project, with a different way of implementing the basic idea being envisaged.

Instead of “unifying” countries in a beautiful, yet purely mathematical and neutral way along the geometric lines of EARTHSTAR, why not select countries that have some old historical links and common problems? .

Paula Costa from CEP reflected upon the possible point of view of all the other countries involved, and suggested that the exact nature of the cultural events ought to be left to the initiative of each of the other seven participating countries as long as they comply with the general theme of fostering cooperation. Later, she coined the name Agrupamento Lusófono Multidisciplinar da Água in order to help the creation of a bridge between the artistic ALMA and the technical ALMA.

Why the idea of “soul” of the water? Space technology is still felt as a soulless endeavor. Its innermost nature is perceived all too often as being at the antipodes of artistic thought. However, this is quite untrue, since many engineers express their strong esthetic sensibility through mathematics or geometry or even CAD layouts, and while using many other computer-generated images.

Artistic Concepts

The Portuguese Ministry of Science and Technology has launched a special program named “Ciência Viva” or “Living Science”, aimed at raising the awareness of the population about the fact that scientific culture is as necessary and important as the classical culture5. It encourages people to try and use the experimental method, instead of relying solely on established authorities as sources of knowledge.

The Legitmacy of Space Art

The importance of space art has not yet been fully realized by some of the people involved in space activities. It is usually seen as a secondary issue to be handled by the Public Relations departments of space agencies in such a way that the technical relevance of the payload is not jeopardized by overexposure of its “debatable” artistic value.

The desire to have space art as a recognized basic component of space programs is a natural consequence of greater social involvement in these activities. Our effort seeks to excel on both the technical aspects as well as the artistic ones. One possible indicator of the degree of innovation present on space efforts might be the role that is reserved to space artists. The more classical approach had given them a very limited role, in charge of propaganda, logos, and press releases not venturing outside the public relations department of large governmental organizations. A more modern approach would tend to treat them as key intermediaries that help bridge the gap between highly specialized and brilliant technicians and the “general public”. The entertainment industry already allows much of this to take place, however space artists are seldom at the center of space projects, and they still remain seen almost as a secondary “strap-on booster”, that can be discarded with little impact on “real” space projects. The trend towards a greater role of the private sector may induce a gradual “change of paradigm” and by the end of the century that is about to begin, space artists may have a very different role.

Artistic components of Alma da Agua

To allow free expression of the particular points of view from each of the eight countries, they are invited to propose to CEP, the specific artistic events with which they may want to participate in this awareness initiative. In each country a local committee of three individuals will be established, to run the local selection process and assist the preparation of the events. Each country will select two songs and two live performances that must include at least one dance event to accompany the two international artistic events to be presented.

Simultaneous artistic events
Launch day Returning of Samples
Song A Song B
Live Performance A Live Performance B
Table 1 All the eight countries will contribute
The first series of eight simultaneous events will occur during the launch, and the second series during the ceremonies that will mark the return of the water sample resulting from mixing of the eight individual samples that flew together on the rocket. Since we want to help all the writers that write in the Portuguese language to become aware of the possibilities opened by entering the “space age”, a parallel competition is suggested, so that essays and other publications can be enabled. New support media for the written materials should be encouraged, not just multimedia, but also e-books, or any other new experimental way of conveying the written word.

Elements of the various live performances:
Music Video Dance Poetry
Table 2 Suggested structure for the events

Art Technologies will play a critical role, since it will be in charge of the webcast, that in turn will act as a synchronizing element designed to enhance the impact on the public.
As an example for these events, there already is one song selected by Portugal: It is called “O Paraíso” (the paradise) and it seeks to illustrate the need to face the difficulties to do new things so that one can reach some kind of better condition.

To take space art seriously may be difficult for some people, yet it may be part of the way to the “paradise” of real public support. The Portuguese composer Pedro Ayres Magalhães from the group Madredeus composed this sad and nostalgic song. Partial excerpt from the words of the song in Portuguese and in English:

Subi a escada de papelão
Não leva a nada
Não leva não
É só uma escada de papelão
Há outra entrada no Paraíso
Mais apertada
Mais, sim senhor
Eu só conheço
Esse caminho
Do ParaísoI climbed the cardboard ladder

It leads nowhere
Nowhere at all
It is just a cardboard ladder

Yet, there is another path into Paradise
More difficult and narrow
Yes sir, quite narrower
As it happens, I only know
That path
To Paradise

To enable the preparation and later support for the transmission of this international event we hope to be able to use an initial version of the computer network that will later become part of the follow-up to the awareness initiative.

The Portuguese "Critical Mass" Paradigm

We were delighted to accept the layout of eight cylindrical components (water bladders) on this payload, proposed by Fokker Space, in order to evoke a "stylized fusion experiment" where you have several lasers firing simultaneously onto a central sample so that the needed temperature and pressure conditions are reached. The new entity that will be created on the day of the launch, seeks to bring together simultaneously several entities, somehow reaching a "symbolic critical mass". The "critical mass paradigm" is used oftentimes in public relations when dealing with high technology matters. In Portugal there was an endless debate about when it would be the right time to start a space program, because we did not yet have enough human resources (critical mass) to start a "chain reaction". This analogy is frequently used in a incomplete way, since it is not enough to throw together all the necessary human resources.

A way of clearly focusing different efforts is necessary. Public opinion must be motivated by a "special event" so that what is created is somehow greater than the simple sum of all the components.

Technical Aspects

We conceived this particular project and payload so that it can become a precursor of a future family of payloads, used in education, research and development, and commercial activities. All of the systems discussed in this section have esthetic value and therefore will be available for various artistic events.

The ALMA da AQUA Payload

Under the current initial design it will weigh approximately 10 Kg and is expected to have a diameter of 30 cm, in order to be compatible with the Sonda III sounding rocket. It will have a lower section with eight water bladders all pointing to the water mixing chamber located in the center of this lower section. Each one of the bladders will have its water sample from each of the eight participating countries. Valves will inject the water into the mixing chamber where they will coalesce producing images similar to the ones obtained in drop tower experiments with liquid bridges. A mirror placed on top at 45 degrees from the support plate where the batteries and camera are mounted will allow a live video recording of the water images that will be down linked in real time. An illumination box installed in the bottom of the payload will provide the light.

Fig. 2 Initial computer model
Fig. 3 Elements of sounding rocket payload
In the future, on new sounding rocket payloads using this same basic configuration, by replacing the eight water reservoirs with totally different instruments, this basic configuration can be used to focus electromagnetic6 or acoustic energy in samples on the central chamber. Several fluid physics experiments can be designed. Studying sloshing is a possibility. Companhia Espacial Portuguesa, has its fledgling Instrumentation Department in charge of assisting Portuguese partners in the development of the payload.
It is hoped that some components will be built in Portugal and Brazil. Additional components from other companies could be added to this basic configuration. There are several technical issues that can provide the training opportunities needed to create a Portuguese team that will work with sounding rocket payloads in the future.

  • Launch preparation: (filling of the water bladders will take place in Portugal.)
  • Mechanical aspects: (exact diameter, type of joints, etc.)
  • Center of gravity requirements
  • Static-g and vibration load
  • Antennas available, choice of matching ground station
  • Recovery module tests (Parachute, float, buoy with transponder, etc.)
  • Tracking and telemetry / video reception (frequency; link budgets)
  • Payload recovery procedures (helicopter from the Brazilian navy)
  • Recovery procedures (Sagres school ship from the Portuguese navy to observe the reentry)

Parabolic flights of the payload are being considered, in order to fine-tune the creation of a nice looking floating sphere of mixed water resulting from the coalescence of the eight samples. Fig. 4 Possible layout for parabolic flight-testing

In order to maximize the technological returns from the flight, a customized set of accelerometers could be installed. An improved GPS on board would allow this sub-orbital flight to yield data that can be useful for future improvements on recovery procedures from the Atlantic ocean. Miniaturized cosmic ray detectors could be tested.

Infrastructures already available

Having enabled the first 100% private payload,7 from Portugal, the “Portuguese Microgravity Emulsion Experiment” on STS-95 in October 1998, CEP has identified several simple upgrades that can be developed with Portuguese partners. After joining ESA in 1999, there is an emerging need8 for various general-purpose support services in Portugal that can be made available to any interested party with great flexibility and low cost.Fig. 5 Companhia Espacial Portuguesa (CEP) offices are located at the Cascais airfield in Portugal to provide a wide scope of logistic support for payload checkout. We have a wide area available for development and rehearsals of complex new theatrical and musical events.
Smaller space art payloads can be added as piggy backs on this flight. An example would be a low power consumption microphone to record and downlink live all the sounds, from the launch to the sloshing sounds of the water mixing, until the “thump” of landing in the ocean. A payload camera installed outside facing down would provide images of the launch site being left behind.

The AEPOR Project

In order to open up an equitable access to space projects for all interested parties in Portugal, a project to develop four basic infrastructures is currently underway. A new entity – AEPOR, S.A., is being created. Its structure is somewhat atypical and quite similar to a Public Private Partnership (PPP) promoting a modern business approach. In AEPOR, the “AE” stands for Agência Espacial / Space Agency. The “POR” stands for Portugal.

AEPOR Ground-base Infrastuctures AEPOR Network

AEPOR Mission Control BusAEPOR Airborne LaboratoryTable 3 Main components of AEPOR projectThis new entity will provide support services and incentives to any Portuguese institution or individual wishing to interact with all the national space agencies and space-related international organizations, such as IAF, COSPAR, UNESCO, UNCOPUOS, ITU, WMO, EURISY, and other similar organizations.
The ALMA da AGUA payload will belong to Companhia Espacial Portuguesa up until the launch day. During the apogee of the sub-orbital trajectory of the sounding rocket it will then become property of the AEPOR organization.

A new kind of “Technical Space Museum”

The value and nature of space artifacts tends to evolve in time. Depending on the owner, first they are “state of the art” technological jewels, and then become operational items. Later they tend to be considered obsolete, while some reach considerable historical value.

These relatively “old payloads” that are no longer flying but that can be operated as part of ground based experiments could provide a “humble” low cost approach for many countries to have access to technologies that are no longer on the “leading edge” but that can still get part of the job done enabling training programs as well.

The International Space Museum was initially suggested by CEP as a way to use old microgravity payloads as a teaching tool associated to the creation of an permanent archive where old software would be made available to software engineers9 as was suggested during the DASIA - Data Systems in Aerospace conference held in Lisbon in May of 1999.

The International Space Museum is to be designed and managed by AEPOR, under its infrastructures program, together with ESA and as many international partners as possible.

One part of the Museum will be open to normal visitors; the rest will include various research facilities, including a refurbishing lab, where old payloads will get upgraded if possible. All of the available components and systems will be used for various space art events, and then returned to the refurbishing lab. The International Space Museum is expected to be ready before the end of 2005, at the latest.

Creating Space Business Opportunities

Brazilian and Portuguese companies and institutes could join the ALMA da AGUA initiative, by providing additional instrumentation such as the low power consumption microphone to record the sloshing sounds of the mixing water, the GPS payload, customized accelerometers, miniaturized cosmic ray detectors, and needle-like nozzles or tubes to reduce the distance the water jets would need to travel before mixing.

While developing this new instrumentation, small mock-ups or demonstration models will be built. When not in use by the scientists and engineers they shall be used in regular multimedia artistic displays, with live music, providing a way to involve the various publics with the development process, in an esthetic and technical way simultaneously.

In terms of merchandizing space art, there is a small series of eight jewels already under development to be made available on the day of the launch. On the commercial Portuguese space shop that will be opening in November at www.astroporto.com it will be possible to become a sponsor of the ALMA da Agua project, ensuring an opportunity for any interested private or public entity to support our goals choosing from a wide scope of sponsorships.

Sequence of Events

This project is launched by the space awareness initiative and will last over a five-year period in order to be able to reach its goals.

1st Step

November 2000
Gathering of eight natural source water samples is initiated

2nd Step

Fall 200
Preparation of artistic competition

3rd Step

September 2002? Launch of sounding rocket and full activation of AEPOR

4th Step

Until the end of 2002
Creation of the ALMA organization.
Returning the Samples – End of artistic events

5th Step
Spring 2003
Presentation of enabled follow-ups

6th Step
Fall 2003
Start of monthly web casts on water resources
7th Step

Spring 2004
Network linking all the Portuguese speaking countries fully established and staffed
8th Step

2005 : Space cooperation agreement or treaty among all the Portuguese speaking countriesTable 4 Major milestones of the project We hope to have a simultaneous TV coverage, and “webcast”. It should be available to all the communities of Portuguese speaking people all over the world. The live sound of the launch is to be picked up and transmitted. The TV coverage we seek will be open to any experimental innovation in multimedia that possible sponsors may want to test.

Press Coverage Strategy
In order to assist the members of the press from all the participating countries, special workshops will be held regularly in Portugal in the laboratory where the samples will be loaded into the payload. International TV coverage of the launch is being prepared so that this event can have the appropriate impact needed to launch the collaboration among all Portuguese-speaking countries.
There will be a web cast of the sounding rocket launch. The official site of the Companhia Espacial Portuguesa Lda (www.cep.pt) and the official site of the initiative (www.almadaagua.org) will keep regular updates of the initiative. These sites will be available in late November 2002.

Displaying the water samples
There will be a cylindrical central room with the flown samples and eight additional rooms, one for each participating country. These will display satellite pictures of water resources and cultural artifacts from the countries. They will also have the water samples that were initially collected with information about their chemical composition and environmental characterization of the natural source. Portuguese specialists on stand design and construction for museums and fairs (EUROSTAND) are already developing a detailed layout.

Portuguese Speaking Countries
The “Comunidade dos Países de Lingua Portuguesa” (CPLP) and the “Países Africanos de Lingua Oficial Portuguesa” (PALOP) are natural partners for this initiative. However it is still a relatively young organization, and the markedly technical nature of the Alma da Agua initiative is perhaps better suited to be handled in its initial stages by the public relations departments of existing space agencies.
The Foreign Affairs Ministries of all the eight countries will have an important role in these efforts. At a later stage, several additional groups and organizations may get involved.

Expected Results

The short term results that are sought have to do with having enough common people in all the countries that use the Portuguese language to become aware of the various capabilities that Brazil has developed, and of the fact that by joining ESA Portugal might now be enabled to assist better the European space industry in becoming relatively more involved with humanitarian issues, in a global perspective.

A contribution to the European Space Strategy
One could use an oversimplified “formula” such as ESA + European Union = ESS (European Space Strategy) to provide a cognitive framework clarifying the rationale of this effort. The European space efforts in the past have not been particularly directed to global issues and markets. There are ongoing efforts to harmonize10 space technology. One possible role for the most recent member of ESA, would be to take advantage of a particular global network of different regions that have cultural ties with Portugal, and thus assist once again Europe in its global endeavors. The AEPOR Airborne Lab is being designed11 with this goal in mind. Its payloads and cargo will be of scientific, technical, commercial and artistic nature.

Broadening Existing Programs
So that several existing international programs can be broadened to all of the Portuguese speaking countries, this initiative will promote specific artistic events related to, and somehow involving a wide number of organizations and programs. These will potentially come to include a wide variety of projects. One was selected as an indicative example: As part of the WMO, the World Meteorological Organization, there is the World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS) that is composed of several regional systems (HYCOSs) implemented by cooperating nations, that complement national efforts to provide the information required for water resource management.Fig. 6 Current global distribution of Hydrological Cycle Observing System (HYCOS) from WMO

Congo HYCOS or
Not in HYCOS?
Not in HYCOS?Table 5 Global distribution of HYCOS coverage

Setting up the A.L.M.A. computer network
Currently, less than 1% of the total population of the African continent has good access to the Internet. The computer network from the AEPOR will have a special layer customized to provide interfaces with all the Portuguese-speaking countries. In order to start weaving this network, a pilot project is the specific A.L.M.A. initial network. These initials stand for “Agrupamento Lusofono Multidisciplinar da Agua”, which can be translated to English as “Portuguese Language Multidisciplinary Water Group”. Nevertheless, water resources data cannot be fully used separately from other data. There is also a lack of comprehensive data on the physical environment, terrestrial ecosystem processes, and socio-economic forces that are changing them. We think that this effort cannot be conceived without taking in account the need for a future broader network, since water resources affect deeply food resources, health issues, environmental issues, availability of jobs, and so on.
To work properly, this whole effort should not only rely on a top-down approach, but also depend on a bottom-up continuous feedback. Artists can provide an initial way to deal with new issues that can later be integrated into the computer network.

Therefore, the network will have to be used to promote a sustained public relations campaign, thus needing to be able to send through the internet various digital music and video presentations in order to maintain an interesting and open cultural program going on, in a regular basis.

Fig. 7 Top view of a room with the minimum number of computers needed to make up each initial node of A.L.M.A. computer networkTraining Staff for AEPOR
One of the main goals of the space policy of the Portuguese Ministry of Science and Technology is to focus on training Portuguese scientists and technicians. This “Space Awareness Initiative” although relatively simple from the technological point of view is somewhat more complex if we consider all the diplomatic coordination efforts needed in order to have eight countries in very different stages of development linked together. The AEPOR organization is being set up in order to provide logistical support to very diverse and far-reaching future international partnerships. This initiative provides a good training opportunity. To promote student awareness and participation in Portugal, CEP has established a protocol with the magazine “Via Universitária” and a special website will be available before the end of 2002.

Cooperation between Portugal and Brazil
Various Portuguese entities need regular access to outer space and reduced gravity conditions in order to develop instrumentation and train technical support staff. Working with the “Centro de Investigação das Ferrugens do Cafeeiro”, which is part of the “Instituto de Investigação Cientifica Tropical”, CEP selected some samples of fungi that grow on coffee plants, and through collaboration with ITA Inc. had them launched on a sub-orbital flight on the 15th of March 1999, during the Operação São Marcos VS-30 sounding rocket flight. They were the first Portuguese samples onboard a Brazilian sounding rocket. Reflights of the basic ALMA da AGUA payload with a number of upgrades and modifications (for Microgravity12 or Astrophysics) can provide a simple way to establish an initial collaboration that can lead to the establishment of more complex future joint efforts. These efforts may be conducted under the framework of the European Cooperation for Space Standardization (ECSS), and the “Rede Brasileira de Informações para Normalização de Atividades Espaciais (RBNAE)”.

Desirable long term outcomes
The motivation behind this awareness initiative is the desire to create the necessary conditions so that a future cooperation agreement or treaty among all the Portuguese-speaking countries can be envisaged. The Portuguese Air and Space Law Association (Associação Portuguesa de Direito Aéreo e Espacial - APDAE) during a workshop in May 2000 began exploring which steps would be necessary to accomplish and what would be the correct sequence to allow the creation of the basis for such a future cooperation effort.

There is a strong need to have information about the environment available in the local language, so that the utilization of space technology tools is not limited to a tiny elite of individuals, and enough people have real access to the basic data. Simplified interfaces can help many reach the desired improvement of the quality of life. The development of enough materials written in Portuguese may be one of the possible keys to allow entire populations a more equitable access to the benefits of the space age.

Future Portuguese national space-related legislation13, currently under development14, will try to promote a modern attitude towards space art, keeping it closely interwoven15 with technical issues, from the very beginning. In Portugal, small space art payloads could help provide a bridge between the private and public sector, allowing a more balanced partnership.


The Alma da Agua Space Awareness Initiative is a hybrid effort, with 60% of the scheduled activities being of technical nature, and 40% of the actions and events associated having to be labeled as being of artistic or sociological nature, aimed at providing a flexible information feedback channel to enable a continuous fine tuning of the effort. The initial artistic interaction with all the space age technology will be followed by a more technical utilization of space tools such as remote sensing, positioning, and water quality data acquisition and dissemination. A viability study on technology transfer initiatives including Alma da Agua is being developed under a consulting contract from ESA.


1. Instituto Camões : www.instituto-camoes.pt

2. Dinis Ribeiro, “Expanding the concept of space program” paper LBS-88-180, “Symposium on lunar bases and space activities in the 21st Century, NASA / AIAA Houston TX 1988

3. Dinis Ribeiro, “The Berlenga Underwater Survey Project” by Companhia Espacial Portuguesa, Lda., edited by ESA SP-312 Space & Sea December 1990

4. Richard Clar, “EARTHSTAR: A Space Art Eutectic” in 48th International Astronautical Congress, October 6-10, 1997/Turin, Italy.

5. C.P. Snow “The Two Cultures and A Second Look” published by Cambridge University Press, 1959

6. Shinichi Yoda, Susumu Yoshitomi, Yoshinori Fujjimori, Tomihisa Nakamura, and Toshitami Ikeda, “Levitation Technology Development in NASDA – Development of Electrostatic Levitation Furnace for the International Space Station and for TR-1A Rocket Experiment”, in 48th International Astronautical Congress, October 6-10, 1997/Turin, Italy.

7. “The first Portuguese microgravity experiment - A pilot project to initiate the study of food industry emulsions in microgravity on STS-95”, published in CIBX-1 Commercial ITA Biomedical Experiments press release, October 1998.

8. Dinis Ribeiro, “Launch of Gravity-Dependent Phenomena Projects in Portugal” in Low G Journal, Vol. 9 N† 1, March 1998.

9. “DASIA 99 - Data Systems in Aerospace”, Abstracts ESA SP-447, Lisbon, Portugal, May 17-21, 1999

10. Workshop on European Strategy for Space Technology Seville, May 2000 CDTI, European Union, Eurospace

11. “Impact 2000: Technology Transfer Programme”, ESA BR-154, (Spanish Version), published by ESA Publications Division, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, February, 2000.

12. “Summary Review of Sounding Rocket Experiments In Fluid Science and Materials Sciences”, ESA SP-1132, published by ESA Publications Division, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, February 1991.

13. “Portuguese Space-Related Legislation” Paper IISL-92-0022 in World Space Congress, Washington D.C. 1992

14. Frans G. Von Der Dunk, “Private Enterprise and Public Interest in the European Spacescape – Towards Harmonized National Space Legislation for Private Space Activities in Europe”, International Institute of Air and Space Law, Leiden, The Netherlands, 1998.

15. Dinis Ribeiro “As Industrias da cultura e a adesão de Portugal á ESA” in Revista FUTURO 1989

16. ESTEC/Contract N†. 15455/01/NL/PA Final report due
in December 2001

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