By Warren Ferster
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The dual-use nature of weather and environmental monitoring satellites can pose challenges from a data policy and user feedback perspective, but offers numerous opportunities for collaboration between the defense and civil sectors, government and industry officials said.
Speaking on a panel entitled “National Infrastructure and Security Applications for Weather and Oceans” at an annual space industry conference, officials also highlighted the critical importance of close collaboration between governments, and with the private sector.
“It’s often remarked, mostly by astronauts who have flown on the International Space Station, that there are no borders in space,” said Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for satellite and information services at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “But there are many borders that are imposed within [the Earth observation] enterprise – there are borders between agencies, the public and private sector, between nations…how do we bridge those boundaries to make the most effective enterprise?”
Pierre Delsaux, who is responsible for space policy and research at the European Commission, said the environmental phenomena and issues monitored by satellites tend to be global in nature, which places a premium on international cooperation. He noted that the European Union, which operates the Copernicus environmental monitoring satellite system, provided data to U.S. authorities to help mitigate the impacts of the hurricanes that devastated parts of the country and its territories in 2017.
“We need each other,” Delsaux said. “We simply need cooperation. Without cooperation, we will not be able to face all the challenges which are common to every part of this planet.”
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