NASA and ESA have formed a first-of-its-kind strategic partnership to observe Earth and its changing environment on July 13, 2021.
The global climate is rapidly changing and the demand for accurate, timely, and actionable knowledge is more pressing than ever. Recognizing that climate change is an urgent global challenge, the timing is right for NASA and ESA, as partners in space, to join forces to lead and support a global response to climate change, in a statement.
This partnership helps to address and mitigate climate change through monitoring Earth with combined efforts of both agencies in Earth science observations, research, and applications, both agencies expected.
“Climate change is an all-hands-on deck, global challenge that requires action – now,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “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 U.S., Europe, and the world.”
The partnership was formalized through a joint statement of intent, signed Tuesday, which outlines how the agencies will collaborate to ensure continuity of Earth observations; advance understanding of the Earth System, climate change and application of that knowledge; and collaborate on an open data policy that promotes open sharing of data, information, and knowledge within the scientific community and the wider public.
“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,” said Josef Aschbacher, ESA director general. “This is why today’s agreement between our organizations 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.”
NASA and ESA have a long and successful history working together to understand climate change. In 2020, NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and European partners, including ESA, launched the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, which is collecting the most accurate data yet on global sea level and how oceans are rising in response to climate change. The mission also is collecting data of atmospheric temperature and humidity that will help improve climate models and weather forecasts.
In May, NASA announced its Earth System Observatory, which will design a new set of Earth-focused missions to provide key information to guide efforts related to climate change, disaster mitigation, fighting forest fires, and improving real-time agricultural processes. The joint statement of intent complements activities underway for the Earth System Observatory.