.contact us |.about us
News > Lifestyle News ...
Doing away with duplication
( 2003-08-25 09:07) (China Daily)

With an annual investment in research of only 4.7 per cent compared with the United States, China still sees the squandering of money through redundant purchases of costly research facilities such as moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometre (MODIS) receivers.

MODIS is a key instrument aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites, both launched by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 2002.

It views the entire Earth's surface every one to two days, acquiring data that will help people understand global dynamics and the processes occurring on and, in the oceans and in the lower atmosphere. It is playing a vital role in the development of validated, global, interactive Earth system models able to predict global change accurately enough to assist policy makers in making sound decisions concerning the protection of our environment.

Latest statistics from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) show different research institutes and organizations across China have built a total of 29 MODIS stations - mostly imported - with Beijing alone claiming eight. There are nine government MODIS stations in the United States.

An imported MODIS facility costs US$300,000, while a domestic MODIS receiver is priced at about 1.2 million yuan (US$150,000).

To avoid such a waste of State investment, a panel composed of officials and experts from MOST and 15 other government departments was jointly established on July 23 to conduct the centralized management of large research facilities and lab equipment nationwide.

"We have almost completed a survey on research facilities and lab equipment all over the country, which are worth over 500,000 yuan (US$60,250) each," says Yu Haiying, an official with the Department of Conditions and Finance at MOST.

"Then we will publish an online directory of the equipment, and encourage people and institutes to use them.

"The equipment was all bought by taxpayers' money and the State should grant equal chances for utilization to all research institutes."

The establishment of the centralized management was proposed by experts at MOST and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in March 2002. It was approved by the central government last June.

"The work we are doing is three-fold," says Liu Chuang, an earth scientist at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at CAS, and the head of an expert group for international collaboration under the panel's preparatory committee.

The first is to build up a supply system of material and information for basic research. The second is to establish a management system, which guarantees the sharing of research resources, and the third is to cultivate a group of people with expertise in equipment management.

The concept of building a core management panel has drawn different reactions from scientists.

Li Xiaowen, director of the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications at CAS, sees the programme as "a necessary reform." He believes that "conducting data sharing among different institutes is a must for scientific research."

His institute has a MODIS station on its campus in Beijing, which receives data from most of the country, except Xinjiang, Hainan and some other areas in the nation's south.

"I think the sharing of equipment and data is good for us," says Li. "I hope it will save us some money, time and energy by receiving data from other institutes."

However, Liu Jianqiang, vice-general-engineer of the National Station of Oceanic Application of Satellites, thinks otherwise.

"We had been trying very hard to get approval from the government to build a MODIS station of our own, because data from meteorological satellites or earth resources satellites cannot fully adapt to our needs," Liu says.

Though he admits centralized management of some equipment might save money, Liu nevertheless holds that "each industry or department needs its own research facilities, just as each family has its own TV set instead of sharing one among several families."

This view is regarded by Liu Chuang as a relic of a planned economy. She says people need to renovate and update their old concepts.

"They should not refer to research facilities as 'ours' and 'yours,' they can share all the State-funded facilities," she says.

Before the panel was officially established, much work had already been done to encourage the sharing of research facilities and data material.

The National Astronomical Observatory of China was established by CAS in April 2001 to conduct the unified management of resources from four observatories, three stations and one astronomical centre across the country.

And there are six local Internet networks sharing a large lab resource in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang and northeastern provinces.

"We hope that the reform will also break the monopoly of the usage of large equipment and facilities by some well-funded research organizations," says Yu.

  Today's Top News   Top Lifestyle News
+The next great leap after Shenzhou V
( 2003-10-21)
+Hu calls for balanced development
( 2003-10-21)
+Report: SARS not airborne virus
( 2003-10-21)
+Japan urged to resolve weapons issue
( 2003-10-21)
+Int'l AIDS group opens Beijing office
( 2003-10-21)
+Landmark Disney concert hall dedicated in Los Angeles
( 2003-10-21)
+Growth of 30 percent Chinese babies impaired by lack of breast
( 2003-10-21)
+Increasing tourists flock to Tibet
( 2003-10-21)
+Hollywood actress-singer signs deal to produce TV talk
( 2003-10-21)
+China urged to build up talent pool of financial mathematicians
( 2003-10-21)
  Go to Another Section  
  Article Tools  
        .contact us |.about us
  Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved