Space-Based Disaster Management to be Discussed at UN Conference

Outer Space Scientific and Technical Subcommittee to Hold 43rd Session in Vienna

VIENNA, 16 February (UN Information Service) -- Space-system-based disaster management support, space-system-based telemedicine and possible dangers posed by near-Earth objects will be key agenda items at the 43rd session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which will take place in Vienna, Austria, from 20 February to 3 March.

Other topics of discussion include the review of the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III), the use of nuclear power sources in outer space, measures for reducing space debris created by space missions and the International Heliophysical Year 2007.

The Subcommittee will also discuss matters related to remote sensing of the Earth by satellites, including applications for developing countries and monitoring of the Earth's environment. During the first afternoon of the Subcommittee session, there will be a symposium on the topic of Synthetic Aperture Radars and their Applications. The presentations will be made by industry representatives.

Member States will review the activities of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications in 2005 and the activities planned for 2006. The Programme, implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), works to improve the use of space science and technology for the economic and social development of all nations, in particular developing countries. Within the framework of the Programme, OOSA conducts training courses, workshops, seminars and other activities on remote sensing, satellite-based communications, satellite meteorology, search and rescue, basic space science, disaster management, satellite navigation and space law.

Implementation of UNISPACE III Recommendations

The Subcommittee will continue to consider the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III, which was held in Vienna in 1999. The Subcommittee will review the contribution that space science and technology and their applications could make to energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change, which are all part of a thematic cluster to be addressed by the Commission on Sustainable Development in 2006 and 2007.

Space-System-Based Disaster Management Support

As part of a multi-year work plan, the Subcommittee will consider the topic of space-system-based disaster management support. The Subcommittee will review the study conducted by an ad hoc expert group on the possibility of creating an international entity to coordinate space-based services for use in disaster management.

On the afternoons of 23 and 24 February, there will be a workshop on disaster management involving communication and meteorological satellite operators. The Subcommittee will also receive reports from specialized agencies of the United Nations system on their activities on the subject of space-system-based disaster management support, as well as the regional disaster management structures.

Space-System-Based Telemedicine

This is the final year of the Subcommittee's consideration of space-system-based telemedicine, under a multi-year work plan. The Subcommittee will hear presentations on possible bilateral or multilateral projects to develop further space-based telemedicine applications through international cooperation.

Near-Earth objects

Also under a multi-year work plan, the Subcommittee will continue to consider the topic of Near-Earth objects, which include celestial bodies such as asteroids and meteors that may cross the Earth's orbit. The Subcommittee will consider reports from Member States and international organizations on their near-Earth object activities, including missions, search and follow-up, as well as plans for future activity.

Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space

The Subcommittee will continue to consider the use of nuclear power sources in outer space under a multi-year work plan. A joint technical workshop with the International Atomic Energy Agency will be held from 20 to 22 February. The workshop will address the objectives, scope and general attributes of a potential technical safety standard for nuclear power sources in outer space.

Space debris

The Subcommittee will consider the topic of space debris under a new multi-year work plan and will review a draft space debris mitigation document arising from the intersessional activity of its Working Group on Space Debris, and update it as necessary. Reports by Member States and international organizations on their space debris research programmes will also be heard by the Subcommittee.

International Heliophysical Year 2007

Under a new work plan covering the period from 2006 to 2008, the Subcommittee will consider the agenda item on the International Heliophysical Year (IHY) 2007, which will be devoted to the study of the connections between the Earth, the Sun and inter-planetary space, such as the response of the Earth's atmosphere and magnetosphere to the 'weather' on the Sun. This will be a major international event, involving the deployment of new space instrumentation and observations from the ground and in space, as well as educational initiatives. It will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year, which involved about 60,000 scientists from 66 countries, working at thousands of stations around the world to obtain simultaneous, global observations from the ground and in space. The Subcommittee will consider reports on IHY planning activities by the secretariat of the IHY, interested Member States and scientific organizations.


The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, like COPUOS, its parent committee, has the following 67 Member States: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

The following inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations have permanent observer status with COPUOS: Association of Space Explorers, Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, Committee on Space Research, Regional Centre for Remote Sensing of the North African States, Eurisy, European Space Agency, European Space Policy Institute, International Academy of Astronautics, International Astronautical Federation, International Astronomical Union, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, International Law Association, International Mobile Satellite Organization, Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, International Space University, National Space Society, Space Generation Advisory Council, Spaceweek International Association and The Planetary Society.

The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 to review the scope of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, to devise programmes in this field to be undertaken under United Nations auspices, to encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters and to study legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space. COPUOS and its two Subcommittees each meet annually to consider questions put before them by the General Assembly, reports submitted to them and issues raised by the Member States. The Committee and the Subcommittees, working on the basis of consensus, make recommendations to the General Assembly.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at

For information contact:

Qais Sultan
Associate Programme Officer
Telephone: +43 1 26060-4962
E-mail: Email Contact

United Nations Information Service Vienna (UNIS)
P.O.Box 500, A-1400 Vienna, Austria
Tel.: +43 1 260 60 - 3430
Fax: +43 1 260 60 7 5899
Email: Email Contact

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