Paris, France (ESA) Oct 18, 2010
In 2000, the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" was set up on the initiative of ESA (European Space Agency) and CNES (France's Centre national d'etudes spatiales). Its purpose is to make it easier for emergency services to access satellite data in the event of natural or man-made disasters.
On Tuesday 19 October, ESA, CNES and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of this Charter, which has been joined by a further seven space agencies worldwide and activated on average more than twice a month since its creation.
The principle underlying the Charter is that images and data acquired by Earth observation satellites should be made available without charge to the authorities responsible for organising relief operations in disaster areas, via a unified and coordinated system of image acquisition and delivery, wherever in the world the affected region is located.
This public interest initiative on a global scale quickly attracted a number of new partners having operational Earth observation satellites in orbit.
After ESA and CNES, which initiated the Charter, Canada's CSA joined it, early on, in 2000, followed by the United States' NOAA/USGS and India's ISRO in 2001, Argentina's CONAE in 2003, Japan's JAXA and the United Kingdom's BNSC (now the UKSA) in 2005, and China's CNSA in 2007. These agencies take on the Presidency of the Charter in turn every six months.
Each Charter member space agency cooperates on a voluntary basis, with no exchange of funds involved, and undertakes to provide its resources free of charge to enable the Charter to function.
Between its operational startup in November 2000 and 19 October 2010, the Charter has been activated 280 times, and already 39 times since the beginning of 2010, notably for the earthquake in Haiti in January.
It is used throughout the world to monitor natural disasters, mainly those linked to meteorological, seismic and volcanic phenomena. It demonstrates the contribution that space systems can make to crisis management, making the work of the rescue teams on the ground easier.
On Tuesday 19 October, from 18:30, an anniversary ceremony will take place at ESA's Headquarters in Paris in the presence of Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA; Yannick d'Escatha, President of CNES; Steve McLean, President of the CSA; and Alain Perret, Head of French Civil Security. Media members who would like to attend this event are invited to register with ESA's Press Service, Brigitte Kolmsee, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel.:+33.(0)1.5369.7299.
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International Charter "Space and Major Disasters"
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