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UNOSAT to partner with US Centre for Advancement of Science in Space to create new sensor capacity aboard Space Station

08 July 2014, Geneva, Switzerland –UNOSAT and The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) ( have started a collaboration on technology applications that aims to develop and deploy a next-generation high resolution, multi-band hyperspectral imaging system onboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Because of its specific location in low orbit around the earth, the ISS provides a premier vantage point from which to observe our planet. For some applications the imagery coming from the station may turn out to be more impactful than many traditional earth observation satellites.

Once operational, the system should be able to support a variety of applications including water and forest-management, environmental management and territorial planning, emergency response, recovery and risk reduction. The particular path followed by the ISS will take the new sensor over areas hosting 90% of Earth’s population. The data stream will be made available to academic institutions, UN entities and national agencies, and other not for profit organizations. It is expected that in time new applications using this hyperspectral sensor will be developed by research partners.

As part of the agreement, UNITAR and CASIS will work together to develop outreach and educational projects, with a specific focus on activities implemented by the UNOSAT Programme to increase capacity in developing and vulnerable countries. UNOSAT will serve as the lead expert in capacity development, applications and training and will work as a bridge between implementing partners and beneficiaries. CASIS will manage the efforts to design, launch, and operate the hyperspectral sensor onboard the ISS, soliciting innovative proposals from both the academic/not-for-profit sectors as well as the commercial market.

CASIS President and Executive Director Gregory H. Johnson said in a press communiqué released in July;“This initiative will provide UN partners the unprecedented ability to leverage the vantage point of the ISS to improve humanitarian relief, and recovery capabilities in real time.” UNOSAT has already partnered with research actors to use the unique potential of the ISS for the greater good. The partnership with CASIS has particular meaning for UNOSAT because it complements the satellite data the Programme uses routinely to carry out its analysis work.

Einar Bjorgo, who manages UNOSAT, confirms: “The ISS provides a unique opportunity for us to inspire new solutions and applications, and to share the fruits of this research with Member States and UN agencies and programmes that work to protect those in greater need and those exposed to disaster risk”.

UNOSAT is a technology-intensive programme delivering imagery analysis and satellite solutions to relief and development organizations within and outside the UN system to help make a difference in critical areas such as humanitarian relief, human security, strategic territorial and development planning. UNOSAT develops applied research solutions keeping in sight the needs of the beneficiaries at the end of the process.

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. For more information, visit

For opportunities in research and technology development aboard ISS National Laboratory
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