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ISRO joins global charter on space

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the European Space Agency (ESA) on Wednesday signed two major documents which provide for cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space for mutual benefit and the use of space facilities in the face of ‘‘natural or technological’’ disasters.

The international charter on space and major disasters and the cooperative agreement was signed by ISRO chairman K Kasturirangan and ESA director of strategy and external relations Jean Pol Poncelet. The charter, introduced by ESA and the French National Space Agency in June 2000, is an initiative by space agencies to provide earth observation data to disaster relief agencies to support them in their emergency operations. The Canadian Space Agency is another organisation which has joined the charter.

Kasturirangan said data obtained through Indian remote sensing satellites will now be provided to relief organisations for the purpose of disaster management.

The cooperative agreement, in turn, enables both ISRO and ESA to carry out programmes of common interest in space science and its applications. The ISRO chief said this will include communication, remote sensing for monitoring the environment and corresponding data processing, meteorology and navigation, and life and material sciences under microgravity conditions.

ISRO officials said they had a long-standing relationship with ESA. ISRO’s first experimental communication satellite was launched on board ESA’s Ariane launch vehicle in 1981. Ariane subsequently also launched several INSAT satellites of ISRO. Apart from the training received by many ISRO scientists in ESA’s laboratories, ISRO also receives remote sensing data from ESA’s ERS-1 and ERS-2 satellites. ISRO, in turn, launched ESA’s Proba satellite on board its PSLV last October.