The European Space Agency and NASA have together signed a letter of intent to team up and lead a global response to the Earth’s changing climate.
Through the partnership, the two space agencies will work together to monitor the Earth and its environment with their combined efforts in Earth science observations, research and applications.
The letter of intent was signed on 13 July by both ESA director general Josef Aschbacher and NASA administrator Bill Nelson.
The partnership will see ESA and NASA explore and develop new ways to collaborate, co-ordinate and cooperate on key programmatic, scientific and policy interests.
The agencies said they would work to “achieve synergy between their activities” and identify processes to “work more efficiently and swiftly together”.
The new partnership will complement existing programs that ESA and NASA have collaborated on in respect to climate change, including their CryoSat and ICEsat campaigns in the Arctic, and the recently-launched Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission, which hopes to extend the long-term record of sea-level rise.
Further, NASA announced in May it would design a new set of Earth-focused missions to further research in climate change, disaster mitigation, forest fire-fighting, and improving real-time agricultural processes through its Earth System Observatory, with this new strategic partnership with the ESA to also complement these activities.
Under the new partnership, ESA and NASA are already developing a new gravity mission to better understand essential processes of the Earth’s system, such as the water cycle.
In a statement, the ESA said, “Climate change is, arguably, the biggest environmental challenge the global population faces today.
“To address this major issue, decision-makers not only need accurate information on how our world is changing now, but also predictions on what may happen in the future.
“A sound knowledge of how Earth behaves as one system is the foundation to all of this – and the pieces of this complex puzzle come largely from satellites orbiting our planet.
“To ensure that data from Earth-observing satellites are used to their best advantage, further science and, ultimately, bring the most benefit to humankind, ESA and NASA have formed a strategic partnership for Earth science and climate change.”
ESA’s acting director of Earth observation programmes, Toni Tolker-Nielsen, said, “We are already witnessing the effects of climate change through rising temperatures, rising sea levels, melting ice and thawing permafrost, for example.
“Both ESA and NASA have excellent tools and the expertise to advance Earth science, so working together we will be able to achieve much more.”
Nelson said, “Climate change is an all-hands-on deck, global challenge that requires action – now.
“NASA and ESA are leading the way in space, building an unprecedented strategic partnership in Earth science.
“This agreement will set the standard for future international collaboration, providing the information that is so essential for tackling the challenges posed by climate change and helping to answer and address the most pressing questions in Earth science for the benefit of the United States, Europe, and the world.”
ESA’s Aschbacher, noted, “Without doubt, space is the best vantage point to measure and monitor climate change, but joining forces is also key to tackling this global issue. This is why today’s agreement between our organisations is so crucial.
“Timing is also important, particularly as we look to the COP26 climate conference later this year, where we have the chance to further make space an integral part of the solution when it comes to climate change mitigation.”
Writer – Defence and Aerospace, Momentum Media
Hannah joined Momentum as a journalist in 2019, and has since written breaking news stories across a diverse range of corporate industries, including finance, real estate, investments and aviation. She has a keen interest in the global aviation sector, with a particualy focus on improving overall individual wellbeing across the aerospace industry.
Hannah graduated from Macquarie University in Sydney Australia with a Bachelor of Media (Journalism) and is currently pursuing postgraduate studies.
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