Telenor and Tungsram take the stories of Hungarian scientists to the Moon

Katalin Karikó, Zoltán Bay and Albert-László Barabási featured on Moon plaque

The Peregrine space probe will be launched in summer 2022 to take scientific equipment and some special payload including the Space Time plaque of Hungary’s Puli Space Technologies to the Moon. The metal plaque capable of withstanding the most extreme circumstances for several thousands of years will feature the stories of Hungarian scientists as a message from two Hungarian companies to travel farther in space and time than ever before. Telenor etched the scientific achievements of five outstanding contemporary researchers while Tungsram added the story of Zoltán Bay, the first scientist detecting radar echo from the Moon, to the Moon plaque as if to a microfilm.

In early 1946, the team of Tungsram’s research lab headed by Zoltán Bay was the first to detect radar echo from the Moon. The signal summation method used in their experiment played a key role in space research and set the foundations for a new branch of science called radar astronomy. Tungsram pays homage to Zoltán Bay’s scientific achievements on Puli’s Space Time plaque.

Telenor Hungary asked the experts of the Hungarian Women in Science Association (Nők a Tudományban Egyesület, NaTE) to select five contemporary scientists whose results will have a major impact on the future of mankind in the long run. Prof. Veronika Ádám, biochemist, Prof. Albert-László Barabási, physicist, Prof. Tamás Freund, neurobiologist, Katalin Karikó, biochemist, and Prof. Éva Kondorosi, biologist, inspire us day by day to dare and look far ahead in space and time and achieve our goals.

The Peregrine space probe will be launched to the Moon by Astrobotic Technology using a Vulcan Centaur rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Since the launch of Apollo-17 in 1972, this will be the first mission to send an American moon-landing gear to space. Budapest-based Puli Space Technologies, a space technology company known for its lunar rover, has partnered with Astrobotic to produce the Space Time plaque capable of withstanding extreme space conditions for up to 5,000 years. The plaque produced with a special thermal procedure is sized 200x200 mm and weighs 160 grams. It will be attached to the footing of the lunar space probe, sending a message to the future or other civilizations.

More information about the scientists featured and their achievements

Zoltán Bay, the father of radar astronomy, featured in Tungsram’s text

In addition to the Moon radar experiment, world-famous physicist Zoltán Bay is credited for the photoelectron multiplier, the metric definition based on light speed and many other patents. At the beginning of his career, he spent four years in Berlin on a scholarship where together with researcher Werner Steiner he proved for the first time that active nitrogen gas contains free nitrogen atoms. Following his return to Hungary, he developed a new kind of electrocardiograph capable of recording heartbeats in a broad frequency range without distortions. In 1936, he was appointed to the head of Tungsram’s research lab. Between 1944 and 1948 he was also Chief Technical Officer of the company. He headed the group that was the first to detect radar echo from the Moon in Europe. In 1945, he became regular member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA). In recognition of his scientific work, he was elected Chairman of MTA’s Department of Mathematics and life Sciences in 1946.

Five contemporary scientists featured in the text jointly written by Telenor Hungary and NaTE

Prof. Veronika Ádám, biochemist. Her field of research is neurochemistry, particularly the role of mitochondria and oxidative stress in the development of neurodegenerative diseases and ischaemic brain damage. She described the ability of key metabolic enzymes in brain mitochondria to generate reactive oxygen species under pathological conditions damaging essential brain functions contributing to the development of neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Parkinson’s disease) and stroke.

Prof. Albert-László Barabási, physicist. His field of research is the model of scale-independent networks broadly available in nature and in social systems. The Barabási-Albert model created and developed under his leadership is internationally referred to as the BA-model. It is a fundamental model for studying social networks. The BA-model is a model for the development of complex networks (graphs), which explains their common scale-independent properties, i.e. that their degree distributions often run according to a power function with a negative exponent.

Prof. Tamás Freund, neurobiologist. His field of research is the structure and operation of the cerebral cortex, the functions of inhibitory neural cells and the pathomechanism of epileptic and ischaemic brain damage. He defined the neural network basics of the development and functioning of brain wave activities underlying learning and memory processes, and he interpreted the patho-physiological processes of anxiety and cannabinoids’ mode of action in a novel way.

Prof. Katalin Karikó, biochemist. Her field of research is messenger RNS (mRNS) ribonucleic acid that conveys hereditary genetic information from the DNS molecule storing cell information to ribosomes, i.e. the synthesis of specific proteins. Her discoveries enabled Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna mRNS to develop their mRNS-based COVID-19 vaccines and provide one of the most promising new technologies for fast vaccine development against corona and other viruses.

Prof. Éva Kondorosi, biologist. Her field of research is plant-bacteria symbiosis, symbiotic nitrogen fixation, developmental biology and chemical ecology. She studies the symbiotic nitrogen fixation process and wants to make it more efficient to capture nitrogen from the air using bacteria and promote plant growth without nitrogen-based artificial fertilizers polluting the environment and contributing to climate change. She proved that plants have hundreds of peptides that make bacteria capable of fixing nitrogen. Many of these peptides have antimicrobial properties. They can be used to create derivatives that can efficiently kill pathogenic bacteria and fungi resistant to antibiotics supporting the fight against antimicrobial resistance.