Tartu University News

UT coronavirus info and updates

1 day 19 hours ago
30.07.2021

Coronavirus continues to spread in Estonia and globally and the best way to prevent it is getting vaccinated and acting responsibly.

Below, we have gathered some recommendations and advice on how to act considerately in the circumstances of the spread of the virus. Find some of the most important recommendations below.   

 

Vaccination

 

Organisation of studies

  • We hope to continue in-class studies in the autumn. We recommend all staff and students who have not been vaccinated yet to do it during the summer so that we could start studies in the autumn as normally as possible. Read more from University of Tartu website.
  • International students and staff arriving in Estonia from third countries are required to present a negative coronavirus test. Read more from University of Tartu website.
  • Have a look at general wisdom on e-learning and a few lessons from last spring.
  • All changes are immediately communicated to students and made available in the SIS.
  • If you have a question about the organisation of studies, submit it here.

 

Organisation of work

  • Everyone whose duties allow that should work from home. Heads of units and employees will cooperate to find solutions that consider the interests of both the university and the employee and ensure a safe working environment for all.
  • Electronic means for participating in meetings must be created for employees working remotely. 
  • Wearing face masks in the academic buildings of the university is voluntary. However, if masks are required at an event or in other cases, the wearing of masks may be made compulsory in that particular case.
  • If necessary, separate safe workstations must be set up for positions that require contacts with customers and people outside their unit. 
  • Prefer paperless procedures and forward documents via electronic channels.
  • International students and staff arriving in Estonia from third countries are required to present a negative coronavirus test. Read more from University of Tartu website. 
  • Please follow the information about the vaccination in the media and get the vaccine if the opportunity arises. Read more on the university's intranet.
  • Read more detailed guidelines for organisation of work in the context of COVID-19 on the university's intranet.

 

Organisation of public events

Please follow national guidelines for organising public events.


Travelling

If you travelled abroad, make sure to consult the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the movement restrictions for people arriving in Estonia. As the epidemiological situation changes rapidly, plan all trips abroad with the consideration that you might be subject to movement restrictions when returning to Estonia. 

  • International students and staff arriving in Estonia from third countries are required to present a negative coronavirus test. Read more from University of Tartu website.

 

Possible infection

  • If you suspect infection with coronavirus, call your family doctor or the family doctor’s advice line 1220 for advice. Do not go to the family doctor’s office. 
  • To prevent further spread of the virus, stay at home while waiting for the test results and when tested positive. 
  • Information about a person being infected with COVID-19 is sensitive personal data and must not be forwarded, except with the person’s consent. Nevertheless, employees and students are encouraged to inform the university if they turn out to be virus carriers and close contacts of a virus carrier. Rapid exchange of information helps us prevent the spread of the virus, reduce confusion resulting from the lack of information and help the Health Board. 
     
  • If an employee turns out to be a virus carrier or a close contact, we strongly recommend informing his or her immediate supervisor or the academic secretary, who is the contact person of the Health Board at the university. It would be very welcome if employees also inform their colleagues and possible close contacts.
  • If a student turns out to be a virus carrier or a close contact, we strongly recommend him or her to inform either
    • the academic affairs specialist ,
    • the programme director,
    • the head of the institute, or
    • especially in the evening and on weekends, the academic secretary of the university, Tõnis Karki (529 7917, tonis.karki [ät] ut.ee).
  • Before you notify the university, think about when the first symptoms appeared. Also, think back to the two days before the onset of symptoms and try to recall when you participated in classes and in which rooms you were. If you have no symptoms but tested positive, think back to the two days before you gave the positive test. Based on that information, the university can trace the possible close contacts and inform them of the need to self-isolate.
  • After that, the academic secretary, the unit and the Health Board together decide which measures must be taken in the organisation of studies as well as in the study and work environment. 

 

 Important terms

  • A virus carrier is a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Virus carriers must not leave their place of residence starting from receiving the diagnosis until confirmed recovered. 
  • A close contact of a virus carrier is a person who has been in the same room with a virus carrier for more than 15 minutes and closer than two metres. All close contacts must stay in self-isolation for 10 days, even if they do not have any symptoms. The Health Board is responsible for identifying and notifying close contacts.  See also the Health Board's guidelines for close contacts (text in English at the end of the page).

 

Contact information 

Tõnis Karki, Academic Secretary of University of Tartu, contact person of the Health Board at the University of Tartu, 529 7917, tonis.karki [ät] ut.ee 
Viivika Eljand-Kärp, Head of Communication of the University of Tartu, 5354 0689, viivika.eljand-karp [ät] ut.ee 

National coronavirus helpline: 1247 (+372 600 1247 for calls from abroad)
State website on COVID-19:  www.kriis.ee /en  
Health Board’s website: www.terviseamet.ee/en
ERR News regularly updated webpage with relevant informationCoronavirus in Estonia: All you need to know

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Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

University of Tartu asks all students and staff to get vaccinated

3 days 19 hours ago
28.07.2021

We'd like to start teaching and studies in the autumn as normally as possible and meet face to face in class, and therefore it is important that as many of our new and returning students and university staff as possible are vaccinated. The nearest vaccination locations can be found on the website vaktsineeri.ee. If you are in Tartu, you can get vaccine at Tartu vaccination centre without advance registration.

According to Kristjan Vassil, Vice Rector for Research of the University of Tartu, vaccination is the most effective way to combat Covid-19. “The number of vaccinated people in Estonia is still too small. However, every person can make their contribution,” Vassil said.

The recent survey on Covid-19 conducted by the Government Office revealed that two thirds of the Estonian population are in favour of vaccination. Even so, Vassil is concerned by the proportion of people who are hesitant: one person in five in the total population and as many as one person in three among those aged 15–24 have not decided whether to get the vaccine or face the third wave without vaccination. “Dear students, dear colleagues! I sincerely hope that you will not only get vaccinated but, by setting an example, encourage and persuade the hesitant ones to get the injection,” said Vassil.

The University of Tartu will hold the opening ceremony of the academic year on Monday, 30 August. Until then, the university is keeping an eye on the situation in the country. We will give further guidelines about the organisation of studies in the autumn at the end of August, before the beginning of the new academic year. Regardless of the spread of the virus, students will have the possibility to listen to lectures for one hundred and more participants online, if the specific course allows it.

We look forward to welcoming international students to Tartu at the earliest opportunity. However, if travel restrictions or self-isolation rules apply, we are prepared to offer distance learning opportunities in most programmes until 1 October. International students and staff from third countries are required to present a negative coronavirus test on arrival in Estonia. All international students can also get a vaccine.

Hand sanitisers are still available in all academic buildings of the university. We also ask everyone to follow the recommendations for physical distancing to control the spread of the virus.

Further information: Kristjan Vassil, Vice Rector for Research, University of Tartu, +372 737 5611, kristjan.vassil [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Adviser +372 737 5681
+372 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Vaccination information available on Tartu's Car Free Avenue

3 days 19 hours ago
28.07.2021

This week the vaccination team from the University of Tartu Hospital will share information about coronavirus vaccinations on Car Free Avenue.

The vaccination team will be present on July 27 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., on July 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on July 30 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

The team can answer questions. It is possible to print out a digital vaccination certificate on site for those who have been vaccinated but do not have the opportunity to print one themselves.

Vaccination can be carried out at the Tartu Vaccination Center until the end of August without prior registration. More information can be found at www.kliinikum.ee/tartu-vaktsineerimiskeskus.

 

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu moves its alumni communication to social media

5 days ago
27.07.2021

The University of Tartu’s alumni network UTalumni, opened in 2016, will be closed soon. According to an analysis conducted at the university, the network failed to meet the users’ expectations, and our alumni prefer to stay in touch with the university via social media channels. The university has already started to develop social media to strengthen the alumni community, bring them closer to the university and develop professional cooperation with them.

The analysis showed that although the number of the alumni network members had grown with the help of campaigns to nearly 9,000, the number of active users remains small. The platform is costly to manage in terms of both time and money. “When the UTalumni platform was launched, its importance lay in its uniqueness. Now, five years later, we value openness more than uniqueness. If we want to be close to our alumni, we have to consider using their usual online environments,” said Kadri-Ann Mägi, Alumni Relations Coordinator at the University of Tartu.

After the alumni network UTalumni is closed on 24 August, our graduates can keep in touch with the university via social media and mailing lists.

  • The alumni newsletter brings you the most important university news.
  • The University of Tartu can be found on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. The university has both an Estonian and an English Facebook page, where alumni are welcome to get involved and discuss various topics.
  • University of Tartu’s website offers latest news and information, and soon the new website of the university will be launched, where the essential information for alumni is organised even better.
  • In the UT blog, people can share their experiences and speak about their activities.
  • Job and internship offers can be posted to and searched for in the Futulab portal.

Further information: Kadri-Ann Mägi, University of Tartu Alumni Relations Coordinator, +372 5310 1610, kadri-ann.magi [ät] ut.ee

Category: Alumni
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Career in science offers new knowledge and freedom

1 week 1 day ago
23.07.2021

One of this year’s 6,000-euro young talent awards of the L’Oreal Baltic For Women in Science Programme was granted to Mari-Ann Lind, University of Tartu doctoral student in animal ecology.

Lind reached her doctoral studies quite by chance – she had no such plans when she started her bachelor’s studies. At one point while pursuing her master’s degree, she even ruled out doctoral studies as a future possibility for her because the scientist’s career seemed difficult and insecure. “More doctoral students graduate from the university than can get a job here,” she explained why she had such thoughts.

However, if life in science still seems exciting enough, taking up doctoral studies is the way to go. Today, Lind is very happy with her choice because doing research suits her very well. For example, the researcher’s job involves a lot of freedom and she can study topics that are closest to her heart. “I learn something new every day,” says Lind. There are also other positive aspects: researcher’s life gives enough flexibility to choose your working hours. As Lind is a night person, this is very suitable, and so she works at the time when she is the most productive – at night.

Currently, her main focus is on writing her doctoral thesis titled “Internal constraints on energy processing and their consequences: an integrative study of stress, digestion and antimicrobial defenses in greenfinches”. This covers ecology and physiology and their different subfields, which are usually studied separately. One research problem of the thesis concerns the birds’ feathers: whether increased yellowness of feathers in greenfinches is associated with more parasites on the bird. Yellow feathers are important for greenfinches because they are a signal for the opposite sex of the bird’s high quality as a mate. Yellow plumage is inherited, but the intensity of coloration may be affected by both genetics and the environment.

Lind explained that the importance of her doctoral thesis lies, for example, in that the family life of people and birds is actually more similar than generally thought. By studying how greenfinches find a mate, we can make conclusions about people. Although people do not have colourful feathers to attract a partner, the opposite sex is often attracted by fancy cars, big muscles or good education. And while mammals generally do not have monogamous relationships, it is a rule for most birds. This is another similarity between people and birds.

In spring Lind received an award of the L’Oreal Baltic For Women in Science Programme. With the help of the fellowship, she plans to study the impact of anthropogenic pollution on flounder in the Baltic Sea. She wants to find out whether, as a result of long-term pollution, fish have got evolutionary cancer defence mechanisms, for example, whether their gut microbes help them better cope with carcinogenic pollutants.

Earlier findings have suggested that gut microbiome and the formation of cancers may be mutually related. Lind wants to find out whether such relations exist. The results of the research will help better understand the impact of pollution on fish, which in turn enables to create more effective environmental measures and better control the release of pollutants into the environment. Research into animal cancers can also offer innovative ideas for medicine, such as for human cancer treatment.

Lind explained that the Baltic Sea has been polluted for a long time already. However, there are both cleaner areas and more contaminated areas in the sea. For the research, the doctoral student will make an experiment: fish from cleaner and more polluted areas are taken to the laboratory, where they are exposed to a pollutant similar to those found in the sea. Then she will explore whether fish who are already familiar with pollution cope with it better and whether they develop fewer cancers than those brought from the cleaner areas of the sea. 

Lind is conducting the research on flounders because they live on the sea bottom where all kinds of pollutants are deposited. Flounders also lead a fairly settled life and do not migrate much. When you catch a flounder from an area, you can be quite sure that not only the specific fish grew up there but also its grandfather came from the same place. 
                
In addition to the fact that the monetary award allows her to study the topic she likes, the fellowship was also a great recognition for Lind, and increased her confidence and self-belief. “It gave me confidence that I am sufficiently good and capable to succeed in science and to pursue a scientific career,” she said. She considers this award extremely important, most of all because it draws attention to the role of women in science. If you look at statistics, it seems to Lind that it is slightly more difficult for women to succeed in science than for men. Generally, there are more female students than men at master’s and doctoral level but after that the proportion of women in science gradually decreases.

Lind believes it is crucial to have female role models. For example, her own supervisor Tuul Sepp often publicly comments on issues related to her field of research. “It is important because this way people will become aware that also women are well-spoken and competent,” said Lind.

Category: Research
Sandra Saar (sandra27)

University of Tartu researchers: domestic walls may not offer protection from psychological emergency

1 week 5 days ago
19.07.2021

In the course of the research conducted by the crisis sociology team of the University of Tartu Institute of Social Studies, representatives of Estonian care facilities and nearly 60 clients of homeless shelters, soup kitchens and rehabilitation centres were interviewed to find out about their experiences during the coronavirus crisis.

The results of the survey revealed that compared to normal population, the most vulnerable and most disadvantaged individuals in society experienced, on average, more psychological problems, stress and depression symptoms caused by the pandemic. “However, like in the general community, also the deprived and marginalised people have coped quite differently,” said Kati Orru, head of the crisis sociology research group.

Three groups were distinguished in the study: home-living clients of care organisations, people in rehabilitation centres, and people living in the streets or in temporary shelters. “It turned out that domestic walls do not offer the best protection from the psychological impact of the pandemic. Compared to people who live in the streets or in rehabilitation centres, people who live at home are more scared and stressed about the situation,” said Orru.

Interviews conducted with employees of relief organisations reveal that homeless shelters, soup kitchens and rehabilitation facilities have been tough and have, despite restrictions, managed to offer help to many people, although the number of those in need has multiplied during the corona situation. “They were, however, disturbed by the lack of local government support at the beginning of the crisis, and by the lack of crisis plans and guidelines for their organisations. They also believe that the stigmatisation of homeless people has increased,” Orru added.

The survey also showed that disadvantaged people who trust government agencies and the information supplied by the government are more likely to apply protective measures and avoid contacts, whereas people who live in the streets have clearly lower risk awareness and less trust in information from official sources, and they are also less likely to protect themselves. The most important source of information among all the groups in the survey was television; and TV watchers also trust national information channels more than those who use social media as their main source of information.

The University of Tartu crisis sociology research group will conduct studies based on the same methodology in 14 more countries.

BuildERS (Building European Communities’ Resilience and Social Capital) is an international research and development project. Its partners in Estonia are the University of Tartu, Estonian Rescue Board and OÜ Positium. The project focuses on vulnerable groups as well as communities and their capacity to help their members. Its main goal is to increase citizens’ social capital and thereby their resilience. The project is funded by the EU programme Horizon 2020.

Further information:
Kati Orru, Associate Professor of Sociology of Sustainability, University of Tartu, +372 515 8545, kati.orru [ät] ut.ee
Kristi Nero, doctoral student in Sociology, University of Tartu, +372 566 5864, kristi.nero [ät] ut.ee

Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu researchers and the Rescue Board have designed a tool to identify vulnerable groups in crisis situations

1 week 5 days ago
19.07.2021

The crisis sociology research group of the University of Tartu Institute of Social Studies and the Estonian Rescue Board have designed a tool helping to target rescue services and social assistance, as well as information, more effectively before and during emergencies.

Previously, no detailed assessment of social vulnerability in emergencies or plans to mitigate the impact of such situations had been carried out in Estonia. The coronavirus pandemic, however, revealed the urgent need for an analytical tool to identify those in need and to define more clearly what information and support they need in the event of emergency. The new analysis tool designed within the BuildERS project offers an opportunity to systematically analyse the social aspects of crisis vulnerability.


Factors of vulnerability in an emergency. Source: Crisis sociology research team of the University of Tartu Institute of Social Studies

Crisis experiences have shown that the prevailing understanding of the vulnerability of certain social groups, such as the elderly and people with disabilities, has become obsolete. As confirmed during the corona pandemic, anyone can become vulnerable under certain conditions and therefore, the sources of vulnerability and the vulnerable people should be analysed separately for each type of crisis.

“As a typical modern state, we have many datasets and registers reflecting the different vulnerabilities of people, but so far we have not used the opportunity to put these datasets into work for emergency planning and response,” said Kati Orru, Associate Professor of Sociology of Sustainability at the University of Tartu. The designed analysis tool enables to link vulnerability factors to the databases and provide guidance on cross-usage of the data to get information about the vulnerable groups. “It’s time we no longer identify vulnerable people solely based on the list of Christmas card recipients or the list of users of social services,” Orru added.


Vulnerability indicators in Estonian databases. Source: Crisis sociology research team of the University of Tartu Institute of Social Studies

According to Margo Klaos, Head of the South Regional Rescue Centre, the analysis tool helps specify the sources of vulnerability and the factors that aggravate vulnerability. “For example, people may be vulnerable because communications masts are out of service and they cannot get information – like it happened during the last major storm in south-eastern Estonia. Vulnerabilities may also occur if people do not understand the crisis information because it is communicated to them in a foreign language or through an unknown channel, or if, for example, they are unable to evacuate the danger area independently,” Klaos described the factors and sources of vulnerability.

In the course of BuildERS, the project aiming to increase social resilience, representatives of the University of Tartu and the Estonian Rescue Board discussed the using of the tool with crisis management experts of the Government Office, Estonian Rescue Board, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. The need for social vulnerability analysis is also addressed in the recently amended Emergency Act.

BuildERS (Building European Communities’ Resilience and Social Capital) is an international research and development project. Its partners in Estonia are the University of Tartu, Estonian Rescue Board and OÜ Positium. The project focuses on vulnerable groups and communities and their capacity to help their members. Its main goal is to increase citizens’ social capital and thereby, their resilience. The project is funded by the EU programme Horizon 2020.

Further information:
Kati Orru, Associate Professor of Sociology of Sustainability, University of Tartu, +372 515 8545, kati.orru [ät] ut.ee
Margo Klaos, Head of South Regional Rescue Centre, Estonian Rescue Board, +372 503 5112, margo.klaos [ät] rescue.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Adviser +372 737 5681
+372 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Does personality influence body weight or vice versa?

2 weeks 1 day ago
16.07.2021

Many personality traits are associated with health indicators, such as body mass index. Although personality traits are often believed to affect body mass index, there is little concrete evidence to that effect. Researchers who began to study such associations have come to quite unexpected conclusions.

The links between the personality and obesity have been studied for a long time. Uku Vainik and colleagues recently conducted a meta-analysis covering nearly 15,000 people, and its results affirmed that obesity correlated with several personality traits (black dots on figure). For example, obesity is associated with higher neuroticism and lower conscientiousness, and their facets, for example impulsiveness, self-consciousness and order (see figure).

Until now, psychologists have implicitly assumed that such personality traits can influence body weight: people with higher impulsiveness and lower self-consciousness may find it difficult to resist food temptations, and this will affect their body weight over time. In contrast, other scientists have suggested that body weight can affect personality characteristics, for example, through physiological or social processes.

It is harder for overweight people to move around and probably therefore they score lower on activity, a facet of extraversion (E4 in the figure). Similarly, people with obesity may receive negative signals from society, which could explain their slightly higher scores on hostility, a facet of neuroticism (N2 in the figure).

Source: Uku Vainik et al., 2018. Personality-obesity associations are driven by narrow traits: A meta-analysis.

To better understand the causality, either body weight or personality should ideally be influenced experimentally, but this would be complex and expensive. Thus, researchers of the University of Tartu and seven other universities decided to analyse genetic data. Both body weight and personality traits are partly influenced by genetic factors, and it is therefore possible to analyse their causal associations based on genetic data. This makes it possible to calculate a person’s genetic obesity risk and using such data, predict the personality traits. The same analysis can also be conducted the other way round – calculate the genetic predisposition for a personality trait and see whether it is associated with body mass index. In this way it was found that genetic obesity risk predicted personality traits, and the genetic propensity for worrying, in turn, predicted obesity.

Similar associations between body weight and personality were found in a dataset of twins . With twin data, it is possible to estimate to what extent genetic and environmental factors explain variance in personality traits and body mass index. Further, statistical models enable testing whether there are causal relationships between personality and body weight and, if so, which one influences the other. As large data sets are needed to achieve the necessary statistical power, the researchers used twin samples collected in five countries and the data of 3,500 Estonian biobank participants. The results suggested that there could be a two-way relationships between body weight and personality traits – body weight influences personality and personality in turn affects body weight, but body weight had a greater impact on personality than vice-versa.

The lead researcher Uku Vainik, Research Fellow of the Department of Experimental Psychology, Institute of Psychology at the University of Tartu and Adjunct Professor at McGill University, was quite surprised at the results. “Contrary to psychologists’ widespread opinion, the genetic analyses suggest that body mass index influences personality traits. Thus, an individual’s self-image or thoughts, feelings and behaviour may depend on body weight. Such results contrast with the formerly prevailing view that overeating is caused by a person’s low self-control. While the results of the study do not rule out the effect of personality on body weight, the effect appears to be much weaker than the effect of body weight on personality,” said Vainik.

Also Kadri Arumäe, doctoral student of Psychology at the University of Tartu and the first author of the article, considered the results unexpected. “The same conclusions were supported by results obtained from different samples and with different analysis methods. In the future, it would be interesting to find out which personality traits exactly are influenced by body mass and which of them in turn affect body weight. To conduct such analyses, we would need more advanced data on the genetic background of personality than has been available to us so far,” Arumäe explained. This possibility may arise soon, as the Estonian Biobank will start collecting new personality data in the autumn of 2021. All gene donors who respond to the e-mail invitation will contribute to having a better understanding of the personality-body weight associations in the future.

Research into the associations between personality and body mass index has been considered important because it can help identify the factors through which it would be possible to fight obesity more effectively. However, if body weight influences personality, such associations may prove important from quite another aspect. Although doubts have been expressed previously whether factors influencing personality development can be identified at all, the authors of the article recently published in the International Journal of Obesity have considered the possibility that body mass index could be one of these factors.

The researchers do not yet dare to suggest whether personality traits can be used in weight management strategies. People generally want to be more conscientious and less neurotic, and these traits are most clearly associated with body mass index. Still, the associations are not strong enough to draw any conclusions about an individual’s personality based on their weight. However, the analysis results demonstrated one reason why it is important to promote public health and a healthy living environment: normal-weight people feel better.

Authors of the newly published scientific article are: Kadri Arumäe, doctoral student of Psychology at the University of Tartu, Daniel Briley, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Lucía Colodro-Conde, Associate Professor and Senior Research Officer at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Erik Mortensen, Professor emeritus of Environmental Health at the University of Copenhagen, Kerry Jang, Professor at the University of British Columbia, Juko Ando, Professor of Educational Psychology and Behavioural Genetics at Keiō University, Christian Kandler, Professor of Personality Psychology and Psychological Assessment at the University of Bremen, Thorkild Sørensen, Professor emeritus of Epidemiology at the University of Copenhagen, Alain Dagher, Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University Health Centre, René Mõttus, Reader in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh, and Uku Vainik, Research Fellow of the Department of Experimental Psychology, Institute of Psychology at the University of Tartu, and Adjunct Professor at Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University.

Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

International students and staff arriving in Estonia from third countries are required to present a negative coronavirus test

2 weeks 5 days ago
12.07.2021

On 7 July, the government of Estonia approved an order pursuant to which foreigners from countries with a high risk of infection outside the European Union can enter Estonia only if they take a coronavirus test before arriving in Estonia and the result is negative. Pursuant to the order, a coronavirus test must be taken before arrival in Estonia in the case of entering the country from the third countries that are not included in the so-called green list of the European Union (countries outside the European Union from which it is possible to travel to Estonia, including for tourism, according to the list in Annex 1 of the recommendation of the Council of the European Union).

Citizens of the third countries not included in the green list who want to travel to Estonia to work, study, stay with their families or on the basis of a special permit, may enter Estonia only if they have taken a PCR test for the coronavirus up to 72 hours before entering the country or a rapid antigen test up to 48 hours before entering the country, and they present a certificate confirming a negative test. This requirement is not valid for persons who have undergone full Covid-19 vaccination and present the respective certificate.

Pursuant to the order, citizens or permanent residents of Estonia and citizens of the European Union are not required to take the test. For more detailed information on travelling to Estonia, please visit COVID-19 FAQs

Read the government order.

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Kantar Emor survey: University of Tartu is by far the most reputable higher education institution in Estonia

3 weeks 2 days ago
08.07.2021

Results of the annual university reputation survey conducted this spring among Estonian residents aged 15–74 by Kantar Emor confirm that people of all age groups consider the University of Tartu to be Estonia’s most reputable higher education institution. According to the respondents, the University of Tartu diploma is highly valued in the labour market, and high-level research is done and excellent education is offered at the university.

The most reputable university in Estonia is the University of Tartu, the university with the longest history – so said 84% of the nearly 1200 respondents. 92% of the respondents spontaneously mentioned the University of Tartu as the first choice af all higher education institutions.

Responses to the survey show that the University of Tartu’s reputation relies, above all, on high-level education and research, and the high value of the diploma in the labour market. In addition, respondents regard the competition for studies at the University of Tartu as tight and university graduates as successful. Also, the internationality of the national university is seen as a great advantage.

When asked what surprised her and why good reputation is important for the university, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Tartu Aune Valk said, “The survey did not include much news for the university, and that’s good. More than 90% of people think that the education given at the University of Tartu is at a high level, that we are reliable and that the university diploma is highly valued in the labour market. It is important that young people and their parents have confidence in the quality of higher education we provide here, as all universities around the world are open to smart school-leavers and thus, competition is fierce. Only by operating internationally and at the world level are we creating a university that is attractive also for very strong candidates. Recent data show that about 90% of the best school-leavers apply for studies at Estonian universities and nearly 2/3 of them, at the University of Tartu. To these young people we are offering, for the third year already, a special programme, “Talents to Tartu”.”

Every spring Kantar Emor conducts the university reputation survey to find out the general reputation of Estonian higher education institutions among the Estonian population. The survey was conducted in April and May this year for the 11th time already; the respondents were 1,130 residents of Estonia aged 15–74.

Further information: Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs, University of Tartu, +372 526 7930, aune.valk [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Adviser +372 737 5681
+372 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: AdmissionsUniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

New UT grant for researchers applying for ERC grants

3 weeks 3 days ago
07.07.2021

To encourage researchers to apply for European Research Council grants, the Grant Office has developed and is piloting a 10,000-euro UT ERC Incentive Grant. Its purpose is to free up the applicant’s time for writing a research grant application. The first call for applications takes place in the autumn already and will involve up to 20 researchers.

The European Research Council (ERC) grants are among the largest and most prestigious individual research grants in the world. The number of promising applicants at the University of Tartu could be quite big as the number of UT researchers who are influential in their field has steadily grown. However, one of the main obstacles to writing successful ERC grant applications is the academic staff’s lack of time. To support researchers in applying for ERC grants, the University of Tartu Grant Office has developed an intra-university funding instrument called the ERC Incentive Grant.

To apply for the ERC Incentive Grant, the applicant must have an active employment relationship with the University of Tartu. The Incentive Grant amount is 10,000 euros and researchers applying either for the ERC Starting Grant or Consolidator Grant are eligible to apply. The grant will be awarded to the institute, who can use it together with the researcher applying for the ERC to cover the direct expenses (for example, the salary costs) necessary to release the researcher from other obligations, for example teaching and research managerial commitments, during the time of writing the ERC grant application. The grant can also be used for the reimbursement of consultancy costs, proofreading or editing and other costs related to project writing (excluding the overheads). For the time being, the pilot grant is not offered to applicants for the ERC Advanced Grant.

The Rector’s Office gave their approval to the UT ERC Incentive Grant pilot project at their meeting on 22 June. The grants will be paid to researchers from the university’s development fund.

Further information: Eveli Kuuse, Senior Grant Advisor, Grant Office, eveli.kuuse [ät] ut.ee 

Category: Research
Sandra Saar (sandra27)

The first autonomous hydrogen vehicle in the world showcased in Tartu

3 weeks 5 days ago
05.07.2021

Today, the world’s first autonomous hydrogen vehicle, created by the Estonian enterprise Auve Tech in cooperation with University of Tartu researchers, was presented to the public for the first time in Tartu. The first passenger on the hydrogen vehicle was the President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid.

The hydrogen shuttle, which at the beginning of June successfully drove its first test kilometers and was authorised by the Estonian Road Administration for public traffic, was completed thanks to the collaboration that started in February 2020. The vehicle is powered by low-temperature hydrogen cells, which were developed at the University of Tartu and which produce energy from hydrogen right inside Auve Tech’s self-driving shuttle. Seating up to six passengers, it is primarily aimed at enhancing last-mile transportation. Like Auve Tech’s other vehicles, the shuttle can drive without human interference both in public traffic and semiclosed areas; its movements can be monitored and, if necessary, corrected by remote control.

At the premiere of the vehicle in front of the main building of the University of Tartu, the President of the Republic of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid held a speech in which she emphasised that the development of a hydrogen shuttle is not only an important milestone in the integration of two promising future technologies, but also marks a major step towards the new reality in which people and innovative scientific solutions meet in everyday life. “No one in the world has dared to spend time and resources on bringing together two parallel developments in transport – autonomous driving and remote control with hydrogen fuel. This shows that both technologies are still in an experimental stage. Undeniably, an entrepreneur who combines these two things takes a risk that is not twice but two squared as big. We actually don’t know what exactly our future will be and how soon it will be here. Like always, the problem is not in science or technology, but in the human being. We cannot imagine what happens when we have two types of drivers in traffic. It is possible that we, the Homo sapiens, must step away from the steering wheel to make room for self-driving vehicles,” said Kaljulaid. “Over 30 years, Estonians have done a lot of things that others have said they would, but do not dare to do. In this sense, Auve Tech’s hydrogen car fits perfectly into the worldview of Estonians,” said the President.

Väino Kaldoja, founder of Auve Tech and author of the Iseauto concept, says that in small Estonia it is possible to do great things in a short time. “This is what we experienced a few years ago, when our Iseauto was approved as road-legal, as well as now, as we are the first in the world to have combined autonomous driving and hydrogen energy in a vehicle,” he said. For Kaldoja, not only the end result is important, but also the students, researchers and experts involved in the process, who have been able to actively participate in creating something that is unique. More than 50 students were involved in the hydrogen shuttle project and all of them acquired much valuable knowledge about innovative hydrogen technology. “Today is definitely a significant day for the whole world but we still have so much energy, so that for us it is just a landmark on our long journey,” said the founder of Auve Tech. The hydrogen shuttle will be called Liisu, after Väino Kaldoja’s granddaughter Lisandra. “This is our nod to all Estonian girls and boys who are still at school, curious to take in more knowledge,” Kaldoja explained.

Professor of Physical Chemistry and Director of the Institute of Chemistry at the University of Tartu, Academician Enn Lust is highly grateful to Auve Tech for their decision to involve University of Tartu scientists in converting their autonomous vehicle to run on hydrogen. “It is important for us to show the initiative in developing fuel cells that convert hydrogen to energy. Hydrogen is the only sustainable solution in a situation where by 2030, at least 12% of the transport in Estonia must be powered by renewable fuels. We proved that in cooperation with the private sector, we are able to find a solution to it,” Lust said. He says that now it should be further developed on the national level. “Estonia is a small country, where a nationwide hydrogen infrastructure could be developed quickly, similarly to Germany, where the maximum distance between hydrogen filling stations is less than 150 km,” Lust said.

According to CEO of Auve Tech Johannes Mossov, a driverless hydrogen vehicle is an environmentally friendly alternative to personal cars. “The hydrogen used in the hydrogen cell makes it possible to produce the electricity needed to run the vehicle inside the vehicle, and the only by-products are vaporised water and heat. Its fast charging compared to electric cars allows more working hours for the vehicle, increasing the efficiency and introducing a way to integrate autonomous transportation to our everyday lives,” said Mossov.

Further information:
Annaliisa Raidjõe, Marketing Specialist, Auve Tech OÜ, +372 5309 7563, annaliisa [ät] auve.tech
Enn Lust, Professor of Physical Chemistry, Director of the Institute of Chemistry, University of Tartu, Academician, +372 511 2030, enn.lust [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Coronavirus level in waste water has decreased to moderate or low everywhere in Estonia

4 weeks 1 day ago
02.07.2021

The latest results of the waste water monitoring study led by the University of Tartu confirm the decrease in coronavirus amounts in waste water all over Estonia. This week’s map shows no places marked with very high virus concentration. 

While just a week ago the interactive map of surveillance results still displayed one settlement marked in dark red, which referred to a very large virus amount, the results of the recently ended stage of the study are reflected in green or yellow in nearly all places. This shows predominantly small or moderate level of coronavirus in waste water. 

Last week the study showed very high coronavirus concentration in the area of the Viimsi-Muuga treatment plant. According to lead researcher of the study, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds Tanel Tenson, this week the situation has changed and there are no virus carriers or only very few carriers in that area. “Ida-Viru County stands out on the map: the amount of coronavirus in the settlements there is mostly moderate,” noted Tenson.  

As the coronavirus situation in Estonia has become stable now, the waste water monitoring study of 2 July remains the last one in this summer. 

How and where are tests gathered?
 
Waste water samples are collected at the beginning of every week in all Estonian county centres, cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants and, if necessary, in smaller settlements. Samples taken from larger cities reflect the situation of waste water passing through the treatment plant over 24 hours, giving a reliable overview of the infection level in the city. In smaller places, spot samples are taken, showing the virus level in waste water at the moment of sampling. Spot samples are more easily affected by various factors and should therefore be used over several weeks to estimate the trend rather than get a definitive picture of the current situation.
 
The study is a tool helping the Health Board monitor changes in the outbreak dynamics and discover hidden outbreaks. It gives early information to estimate the spread of the virus before clinical cases are detected. The Health Board is regularly informed of the results. In collecting the samples, the University of Tartu cooperates with the Estonian Environmental Research Centre and water companies operating the waste water treatment plants of Estonian cities. The samples are analysed at the laboratories of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.
 
For more information and the interactive map with the previous results of the study, see the home page of the study “Detecting coronavirus in waste water”.
 
Further information: Tanel Tenson, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds, University of Tartu, 5344 5202, tanel.tenson [ät] ut.ee

Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Saar (sandra27)

World’s first autonomous hydrogen vehicle is presented in front of the University of Tartu main building

4 weeks 2 days ago
01.07.2021

The presentation of the first autonomous hydrogen vehicle in the world, created by the Estonian enterprise Auve Tech in cooperation with University of Tartu researchers, takes place in front of the main building of the University of Tartu (Ülikooli 18) on Monday, 5 July at 11. At about 11:30, President Kersti Kaljulaid will take the first ride on the hydrogen shuttle bus.

The hydrogen shuttle, which at the beginning of June successfully drove its first test kilometers and was authorised by the Estonian Road Administration to travel on public roads, was completed thanks to the collaboration that started in February this year. The vehicle is powered by low-temperature hydrogen cells, which were developed at the University of Tartu and produce energy from hydrogen right inside Auve Tech’s autonomous shuttle.

The hydrogen bus seats up to six passengers and is primarily aimed at enhancing last-mile transportation. Like other Auve Tech’s vehicles, the shuttle can drive without human interference both on public roads and in closed areas; its movements can be monitored and, if necessary, corrected remotely.

 

Schedule

11:00 Opening video and show. Speeches

President of the Republic of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid

Rector of the University of Tartu Toomas Asser

Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas

Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Auve Tech Taavi Rõivas

11:20 Premiere presentation of the world’s first autonomous hydrogen vehicle, comments by CEO of Auve Tech Johannes Mossov and Professor of Physical Chemistry Enn Lust

11:35 Demonstration rides to guests of honour and others interested

 

Further information: Annaliisa Raidjõe, Marketing Specialist for Auve Tech OÜ, +372 5309 7563, annaliisa [ät] auve.tech

Sandra Sommer Press Adviser +372 737 5681
+372 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: EntrepreneurshipResearch
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Research news: about migraine, text comprehension, war history and supercapacitors

1 month ago
29.06.2021

Research news give hints of some of the interesting studies conducted in different fields.

Social Sciences

How to teach children to understand a text?

When we try to develop children’s text comprehension and vocabulary, it is essential to recognise the role of reading interest in this process. Reading interest can be increased, for example, by means of interactive role play or word games, which activate children’s prior knowledge and bring a new meaning to reading. On the other hand, when teaching text comprehension, it is always necessary to consider the child’s age, interests and needs because otherwise their reading interest may decrease.

Read further here.
Further information: Maile Käsper, author of the doctoral thesis “Supporting primary school students’ text comprehension and reading interest through teaching strategies”, maile.kasper [ät] gmail.com

Medicine

Doctors need more support in managng migrane treatment

New therapies offer new opportunities in the management and research of clinical treatment for migraine, but also raise complex issues. A survey conducted by researchers showed that many doctors lack the confidence to deal with patients suffering from difficult-to-treat migraines. To better manage the treatment, they need clearer and more evidence-based guidelines, which would refer, among other things, to the available treatment options. 

Read further here.
Further information: Mark Braschinsky, Lecturer in Neurology, mark.braschinsky [ät] ut.ee

Arts and Humanities

Estonia’s development from the war-historical perspective

Recently, the UT Press published a voluminous collection of articles about Estonian war history, “Eesti sõjaajalugu. Valitud peatükke Vabadussõjast tänapäevani”, intended for all history-lovers. Through articles by renowned war historians, this unique book brings readers a lot of previously unknown sources and is richly illustrated with photos, maps and charts.

Read further here.
Further information: Tõnu-Andrus Tannberg, Professor of Estonian History, tonu-andrus.tannberg [ät] ut.ee

Science and Technology

Green micro-supercapacitors save the environment

In medical devices as well as in other applications, increasingly more attention is paid to electronic devices, batteries, capacitors etc. that are able to biodegrade at the end of their working life. Researchers have developed ultra-thin (thickness < 10 μm) capacitors based on natural-derived, biodegradable materials, like cellulose. To produce the capacitors, various printing technologies were combined. This production method enables, on the one hand, to make very small details, while on the other hand, the technology can be transferred to industrial mass production. The article was written in cooperation with the University of Tartu Institute of Technology and the University of Milan within the BIOACT project under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action.

Read further here.
Further information: Kaija Põhako-Esko, Associate Professor of Materials Chemistry, kaija.pohako [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Sandra Saar (sandra27)

The Guild sets recommendations to improve access to health data for research purposes

1 month ago
28.06.2021

The Guild voices its concerns regarding the existing regulatory frameworks on health data which are putting medical research in Europe under a threat. Access to a large volume and diverse range of data is crucial for the improvement of diagnostic techniques and treatments, and for preventive and health strategies.

We need to enhance collaborative medical research across borders to ensure scientists can develop new vaccines, medicines and treatments effectively and speedily, for the welfare of all citizens. However, at present the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the interpretation of some of its provisions impose limitations on the sharing and reuse of health data for research purposes.

The Guild fully acknowledges the crucial importance of protecting the privacy and sensitive personal data of citizens. However, the uncertainties around the extent to which the exemptions for research in the GDPR apply to health data, and the different interpretations of the GDPR rules in the Member States, have caused researchers to avoid sharing and reusing health data for research purposes to ensure compliance with the GDPR rules. This poses major challenges for conducting collaborative data-intensive medical research projects, including critical clinical studies.

Last month, the European Commission launched an open public consultation on its proposal for a regulation on the European Health Data Space (EHDS), a common data space which is planned to be operational by the end of 2021. The Guild endorses the specific objective of the EHDS to facilitate health data sharing and reuse for research purposes.

To address the obstacles data-intensive medical research is facing, The Guild calls on the Commission to pay attention to the following points when shaping the EHDS:

  • Clarify GDPR provisions, especially those introducing exemptions for the use and processing of personal data for the purpose of (medical) research.
  • Ensure that the degree of data protection required is commensurate with the actual sensitivity of the data.
  • Revise the rules relative to patients’ consent to data processing and transfer.
  • Consider data federation aspects allowing for federation to different levels: national nodes, individual institutes, and individual citizens.
  • Support the development of privacy enhancing technologies.
  • Develop an approach based on risk-benefit/value assessment.
  • Increase citizens’ trust by raising their awareness of the potential benefits of data sharing and being transparent on the reuse of health data.

The Guild is committed to continuing to work with the Commission in the implementation of the EHDS.

Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General of The Guild, said: “For European medical research to remain internationally competitive, we need to be able to share data from medical research. It is critical that the European Commission develops a balanced approach that enables this sharing to proceed, for the benefit of European citizens.”

Read The Guild position paper “Proposals for the European Health Data Space”.

Category: Research
Sandra Saar (sandra27)

Wastewater study map shows few places with high virus readings

1 month ago
25.06.2021

The map of the results of this week’s wastewater monitoring study shows few settlements with high and very high coronavirus readings to a predominantly green background. Compared to the index representing the average situation in Estonia, virus readings are slightly higher in Harju County, Ida-Viru County and in central Estonia.

Over the week, the overall picture has become greener, i.e. the concentrations are low. However, also places with high and very high virus concentration have reappeared on the map. “Coronavirus concentration has become very high in the area of the Viimsi-Muuga wastewater treatment plant, as well as in Ahtme. The virus amounts in samples from Jõhvi and Rapla treatment plants are slightly smaller, but still considerable. Even so, the index representing the average situation in Estonia has still remained stable at quite a low level for the last four weeks,” said lead researcher of the study Tanel Tenson, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds at the University of Tartu.


How and where are tests gathered?

Waste water samples are collected at the beginning of every week in all Estonian county centres and cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants. In the period of more extensive spread of the virus, samples were also collected from smaller settlements, as needed. As the spread of the virus has been moderate in Estonia in the last weeks, this time no samples were taken from smaller places.

Samples taken from larger cities reflect the situation of waste water passing through the treatment plant over 24 hours, giving a reliable overview of the infection level in the city.

The study is a tool helping the Health Board monitor changes in the outbreak dynamics and discover hidden outbreaks. It gives early information to estimate the spread of the virus before clinical cases are detected. The Health Board is regularly informed of the results.

In collecting the samples, the University of Tartu cooperates with the Estonian Environmental Research Centre and water companies operating the waste water treatment plants of Estonian cities. The samples are analysed at the laboratories of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.

For more information about the previous results of the study, see the home page of the study “Detecting coronavirus in waste water”.

Further information: Tanel Tenson, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds, University of Tartu, 5344 5202, tanel.tenson [ät] ut.ee

Category: ResearchPress release
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

Last results of coronavirus study promise a brighter outlook for summer

1 month 1 week ago
22.06.2021

The results of the last, recently ended stage of the coronavirus prevalence survey led by the University of Tartu show that the percentage of infectious adults in the population has decreased to 0.05%, while the proportion of adults with antibodies has grown to nearly 70%.

In the course of the coronavirus prevalence survey from 13 to 21 June, researchers tested 2,244 random-sampled adults, 10 of whom gave a positive test.  Nine had already recovered from the virus and one was still contagious. This means that at the moment, the estimated number of infectious adults in Estonia is 500 or, on average, one person in two thousand. 

To detect coronavirus antibodies, 2,277 people gave a blood test and 1,854 of them, or 67.7%, had antibodies. Therefore, the estimated number of adults with coronavirus antibodies in Estonia is 726,000. Most of them have achieved protection through vaccination.

Vaccine protects more effectively than the disease

According to the principal investigator of the survey, the University of Tartu Professor of Family Medicine Ruth Kalda, the proportion of people with antibodies has grown particularly rapidly among middle-aged and young people. In the age group 18–39, it has increased by a half in the last month. According to Kalda, the current spread of the coronavirus is comparable to that at the beginning of last summer. 

“Vaccination has a huge role in order for our lives to return to normal. The results of our survey show that two thirds of people with antibodies have obtained Covid-19 protection through vaccination,” Kalda explained. Professor Kalda underlines that vaccination is definitely recommended for people who have survived Covid-19. “We do not have good evidence yet on how long immunity gained from infection will last. Therefore, for a more solid protection, it is necessary to have a vaccine six months after recovery,” Kalda said.

The behavioural analysis of the prevalence study confirms that along with the easing of restrictions and increase in vaccinations, people’s bechaviour has become more relaxed. At the same time, close contacts with potential infected people have decreased by a half compared to the last month. “This gives us confidence that the virus wave is receding and we can have a more relaxed summer,” said Kalda.

The recently ended stage of survey was the last one in the study on the prevalence of the coronavirus- in Estonia. Further need for surveys will depend on changes in the spread of the virus. “We hope to achieve such a level of vaccination over the summer that in the autumn, the coronavirus will no longer paralyse our everyday life. On behalf of the research team, I would like to thank everyone who has participated in the survey over the last year. Thanks to you we have been able to estimate the changes in the prevalence of the virus among the population and thereby support decision-makers in solving the complicated situation,” Kalda said.

The monitoring study on the prevalence of coronavirus was conducted by a broad-based research team of the University of Tartu in cooperation with Synlab Estonia, Medicum and Kantar Emor.

For more information about the study, see the University of Tartu web page.

Further information: Ruth Kalda, Head of Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health, Professor of Family Medicine, University of Tartu, +372 5698 5599, ruth.kalda [ät] ut.ee

Category: ResearchPress release
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

University of Tartu Narva College and Swedbank cooperate to support IT and entrepreneurship in Ida-Viru County

1 month 1 week ago
22.06.2021

University of Tartu Narva College and Swedbank have concluded a cooperation agreement to support the development of IT and entrepreneurship in Ida-Viru County. Within the cooperation, experts from Swedbank will be involved in teaching the curricula “Entrepreneurship and Digital Solutions” and “Information Technology Systems Development” of Narva College.

In the form of lectures, seminars, traineeship and other teaching activities, experts will share their practical experience in business situations and projects as well as information systems development with students of Narva College. In addition, representatives of Swedbank will take part in the development work of the college and the programme councils of the mentioned curricula.

“For Swedbank, it is important that the existing good cooperation continues. As a bank, we are a part of the blood circulation of society, so we must contribute to the development of Estonia as a whole. This is why one of our goals is to create traineeship opportunities and jobs in regions. Moreover, as for many systems-dependent enterprises, the wellbeing of Swedbank also builds upon how successfully and smartly its systems and digital solutions have been set up. We can see that cooperation with Narva college can surely help us achieve that goal. By continuous cooperation, innovation can find its way to enterprises,” said Swedbank’s Head of Human Resources Ülle Matt.

According to Ingrid Vetka, the Director of Academic Affairs of University of Tartu Narva College, involving practitioners in teaching is a priority of the college. “Throughout the years, Swedbank has remained among the most attractive employers in Estonia and as a large enterprise, they have lots of valuable experience to share,” said Vetka.

She emphasises that maintaining cooperation is a challenge in itself. “Initiating and creating cooperation agreements is one thing. It is much more complicated to keep this cooperation going so that both the university and the enterprise would continue to be interested and willing to maintain that kind of partnership. Fortunately, we have plenty of ideas how Narva College can move on in cooperation with Swedbank,” Vetka added.

Narva College is a regional unit of the University of Tartu, created to support the development of Ida-Viru County and offer the people in the region opportunities for top-level self-development.

Further information:
Ingrid Vetka, Director of Academic Affairs of University of Tartu Narva College, 740 1903, ingrid.vetka [ät] ut.ee
Ülle Matt,  Head of Human Resources of Swedbank, ulle.matt [ät] swedbank.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Adviser +372 737 5681
+372 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Milrem Robotics and Tartu Observatory to start developing Moon rovers

1 month 1 week ago
22.06.2021

Milrem Robotics secured a European Space Agency (ESA) contract to start applying its autonomy capabilities towards planetary rovers with Tartu Observatory. The current project, planned as the first in a series of projects, aims to map the current state of the art of planetary rovers and develop tools to increase planetary rover autonomy using the methods Milrem Robotics is currently applying in its terrestrial ecosystem of products. The agreement was signed last week.

"Milrem is very proud to cooperate with ESA in the development of innovative space capabilities. Together with our research partner, Tartu Observatory of the University of Tartu, we can provide the best intelligent navigation solutions for lunar and planetary missions," said Professor Mart Noorma, Science and Development Director at Milrem Robotics.

European Space Agency’s desired outcome in this first project is an automatic mission planning system to reduce the amount of human intervention required for various lunar operations. The developed system will automate the execution of surface operations or respective analogue activities considering input data, such as remote observation data of the environment, points of interests with varying priorities and the possibility to descope or add points during runtime, operations required to be performed, rover resources and constraints, and in-situ imagery and other locally gathered data.

ESA’s Global Exploration Roadmap foresees the stepwise advancement of humankind into our solar system within the next 20 years, starting with the Moon and using lunar missions to mature capabilities for enabling more ambitious Mars missions in the next twenty years. In this global vision, robotic missions precede human explorers to the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, and Mars.

One such future lunar robotic mission example is the European Large Logistic Lander (EL3). The EL3 project aims at delivering cargo or a rover to the lunar surface. In the rover option of the project, a surface rover would be controlled to collect surface samples to be returned to Earth. Then the rover could continue the exploration of the surface, covering long-distance traverses while being continuously operated by surface operations teams on Earth. The foreseen traverses are in the range of 300 km, meaning a whole new class of distances not covered before by robotic space missions, and requiring significantly increased autonomy and automation capabilities, such as those Milrem Robotics is currently developing for terrestrial use.

The current project will kickstart the development of lunar rovers in Estonia and expand the know-how and facilities needed to start developments towards future missions.

“The project is the first step to enable Estonian autonomy technologies reach beyond the surface of the Earth and allow humanity to spread further into our solar system. Hopefully larger and more grandiose projects will follow,” said Mihkel Pajusalu, Head of the Space Technology Department at the Tartu Observatory and Associate Professor of Space Technology at the University of Tartu.

Disclaimer: The project mentioned in the press release is carried out under a programme of, and funded by, the European Space Agency. The views published here can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency.

Further information:
Mihkel Pajusalu, Head of Department of Space Technology, Tartu Observatory and Associate Professor of Space Technology, University of Tartu, 5381 5711, mihkel.pajusalu [ät] ut.ee
Gert D. Hankewitz, Export Director at Milrem Robotics, 5664 4416, gert.hankewitz [ät] milrem.com

Category: ResearchPress release
Kairi Janson (kairijan)
Checked
01.08.2021 - 09:01
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