NASA, European Space Agency join forces on climate change

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, left, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, NASA Associate Administrator for International and Interagency Relations Karen Feldstein, and NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen (all left side of image) and ESA (European Space Agency) Director General Josef Aschbacher are seen in a screen capture from a signing ceremony for a new NASA-ESA joint statement of intent aimed at addressing global climate change, 13 July 2021. [NASA]

NASA and the European Space Agency joined forces Tuesday (13 July) in the battle against climate change, a move they said paves the way to a global response to the problem.

“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 said in a statement.

The partnership was formalised on Tuesday with a statement of intent signed by ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher and NASA’s Administrator Bill Nelson.

This aims “to pave the way to leading a global response to climate change, through the monitoring of the Earth and its environment with their combined efforts in Earth science observations, research and applications,” the statement said.

The US and European space agencies have already worked together on environmental issues, notably on the Copernicus Sentinel-6 programme in which satellites about the size and shape of a large minivan measure sea level rise, tracking changes threatening to disrupt tens of millions of lives within a generation.

“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,” ESA’s Aschbacher said.

“This is why today’s agreement between our organisations is so crucial,” he added.

The COP26 climate conference in November will provide a chance “to further make space an integral part of the solution when it comes to climate change mitigation,” he said.

“Climate change is an all-hands-on-deck, global challenge that requires action — now,” said NASA chief Nelson.

“NASA and ESA are leading the way in space, building an unprecedented strategic partnership in Earth science,” he added in the statement.


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