Australian Space Agency signs on NASA for Earth observation mission

The pair will share data to enhance Earth observation and help Australia build its sovereign space capability.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor
Image: loops7/Getty Images

The Australian Space Agency and NASA have signed a joint statement of intent to enhance Earth observation from space.

"For us to unleash the full power of Earth observation we need to work with our closest international partners to share data and learn from one another," Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said.

"The United States has long been a global leader in land imaging from space. In fact, their data has been helping Australians for decades. This signing is the first step toward Australia contributing to and enhancing this critical network for the benefit of both our nations."

The statement of intent highlights opportunities for Australia and the US to cooperate on how the satellites being delivered under the space mission would complement NASA's Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory Pathfinder (CLARREO-PF) mission, which aims to measure reflected sunlight with high accuracy in an effort to better understand the Earth's climate.

The signing of the intent is a step towards helping achieve goals set out under Australia's National Space Mission for Earth Observation, which was established following a AU$1.2 billion boost from the federal Budget last week.

The goals under the space mission include securing access to key earth observation data streams, building Australia's sovereign capability, and entering agreements with international partners including for the procurement and operation of Australian Satellite Cross-Calibration Radiometer satellites.

The National Space Mission is being led by the Australian Space Agency in partnership with Geoscience Australia, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and Defence.

The statement of intent also highlights future opportunities for the United States Geological Survey and Geoscience Australia to work together.

Elsewhere, Fujitsu has developed a new analysis system to calculate orbital courses of space debris for use with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Space Situational Awareness (SSA) System for monitoring space debris.

Fujitsu claims the new system can provide high precision orbit calculations to accurately track pieces of orbiting debris and forecast their movements to prevent collision with artificial satellites.

The new system, which serves as the core of the SSA system, also allows JAXA's system operators to create plans on effective space debris observation, the management of acquired observation data, and the analysis of orbit tracking calculations to support the detection of space debris approaching satellites and to subsequently avoid collisions.

Image: Fujitsu

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