Oct 2020 | No Comment

Bushfire Inquiry Report by NSW Government

The NSW Government, Australia has released the independent NSW Bushfire Inquiry, which examined the causes, preparation and response to the devastating 2019-20 bushfires.

All 76 recommendations will be accepted in principle, with further work to be done on specific timelines to give communities assurance that changes will be made to keep them safe.

Resilience NSW, led by Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, has been tasked with coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the Inquiry’s recommendations as the government finalises its approach.

China launches new optical remote-sensing satellite

China successfully launched a new optical remote-sensing satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. The satellite, Gaofen-9 05, was sent into orbit by a Long March-2D carrier rocket. Gaofen-9 05 has a resolution up to the sub-meter level. It will be mainly used for land surveys, city planning, land right confirmation, road network design, crop yield estimation and disaster prevention and mitigation.

Satellite data to power credit assessment of farmers

ICICI Bank, India announced the usage of satellite data – imagery from Earth observation satellites – to assess credit worthiness of its customers belonging to the farm sector. The Bank is the first in India and among few globally to use satellite data to measure an array of parameters related to the land, irrigation and crop patterns and use it in combination with demographic and financial parameters to make expeditious lending decisions for farmers.

The Bank has been using satellite data for the past few months in over 500 villages in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and plans to scale up the initiative to over 63,000 villages shortly across the country.

This initiative gains significance at a time when people are advised to stay indoors and avoid travel in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. This use of satellite data provides quick and technically sound analysis of the land, crop and irrigation patterns from remote locations, without the need of the customer or a bank official having to visit the land. It offers farmers the significant advantage of reliable data being provided to the Bank without any hassles of travel, operational or logistical expenditure to them.

The Bank has partnered with agri–fintech companies specialising in harnessing space technology and weather information for commercial usage. It has worked closely with them to build reports with over 40 parameters for assessing credit-worthiness of a farmer with deep study of the land, irrigation and crop patterns. The analysis is put together using algorithms to analyse images available from satellites around the planet. Additionally, the Bank has worked on further scoring models to create indices at district level, village level as well as for individual land to provide an estimate of the past and future agriculture income, the timing of harvest and sources of income, and thus, provide key inputs to credit assessments.

Japan-US comprehensive dialogue on space – Excerpts of Joint statement

Pursuant to the shared goal of continuing to advance bilateral space cooperation and to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance as declared by the leaders of both nations, the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America held the Seventh Meeting of the Japan-U.S. Comprehensive Dialogue on Space in Tokyo, on August 26, 2020.

This meeting was co-chaired by representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Space Policy Secretariat, Cabinet Office for Japan, and by representatives from the Executive Office of the President’s National Space Council and National Security Council for the United States. Principal participants included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; National Space Policy Secretariat; National Security Secretariat; Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications; Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT); Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; Ministry of Environment; Ministry of Defense; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); and National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) from the Japanese side, and the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce; and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from the U.S. side.

Through this Dialogue, Japan and the United States continue the work to enhance and strengthen cooperation between the two countries from a broad, inclusive, and strategic perspective. With the participation of experts from across the two governments, the Dialogue series emphasizes a whole-of-government approach to civil, commercial, and national security space interests and cooperation.

At this meeting, both sides provided updates on their respective space policies, including the recent revision of the Basic Plan on Space Policy on the Japanese side and the release of the Defense Space Strategy on the U.S. side. Both sides renewed their strong determination to expand bilateral cooperation in a variety of areas including space security, international rule-making, space situational awareness (SSA), space exploration, commercial space activities, and global navigation satellite systems and to seek opportunities for cooperation with third countries and in international fora. Both sides engage in robust bilateral cooperation in Earth observation, including weather forecasting, Earth science, land and ocean observation, and environmental and space weather monitoring. Together both sides also take lead roles in multilateral coordination of the global observing system. Japanese and U.S. weather and Earth observation satellite systems are essential components of the global observing system on which other nations rely. Both sides also discussed other important issues regarding space utilization, such as space resources and the use of space for Maritime Domain Awareness. The United States welcomed Japan’s effort to establish a new framework for satellite development and demonstration.

Both sides shared the view that it was important for leading spacefaring nations to promote bilateral and multilateral space cooperation with transparency and discussed possible ways for the two countries, with partners, to cooperate in expanding space activities and utilization to address the needs of other nations, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. Both sides recognized the role of space applications such as satellite-based Earth observation and navigation in the context of solving global issues including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SkySat Constellation Complete by Planet

The world’s largest fleet of high-resolution imaging satellites just welcomed three new satellites to the family. On August 18, 2020, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched SkySats 19, 20 and 21.

Over the next several weeks the SkySat satellites will use their onboard propulsion to boost themselves up to their operational altitude of 400 km, and also begin phasing their orbital plane with respect to SkySats 16-18 in order to maximize coverage and revisit. These three new SkySats join the 18 others already in orbit and significantly expand the capacity to provide world class, high-resolution images to a variety of commercial, governmental, academic and non-profit organizations.

SkySats 19-21 are also the final SkySats to be built and launched, completing the campaign of 21 satellites originally planned by the SkyBox team in 2009. Eleven years later, the innovation of the SkySat design and mission remains world-class and continues to move the high-resolution satellite industry forward.

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