Australia Allocates $207 Million to a Significant Satellite Program: Purpose and Importance Explored

Australia Allocates $207 Million to a Significant Satellite Program: Purpose and Importance Explored

The federal minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Madeleine King, recently signed a A$207 million commitment with the United States to support the development of the next generation of Earth observation satellites called “Landsat Next”. Australia has been benefiting from the current Landsat program for over 40 years.

This commitment means that Australia will play a crucial role in global Earth observation efforts by managing the data downloaded from the new Landsat satellites. Earth observation satellites provide essential climate change and weather data, with over 90% of weather data coming from these satellites. In Australia, Earth observation data is critical for various sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, mining, land and water policies, bushfire response, and national security.

Indigenous rangers in northern Australia also benefit greatly from Earth observation data, which they use to enhance their traditional land and water management practices. Geoscience Australia and CSIRO work closely with the Centre for Appropriate Technology, an Indigenous business in Alice Springs, which receives data from Landsat and other Earth observation satellites.

Landsat is a program led by NASA and the US Geological Survey that has been providing continuous data on Earth’s land since 1972. Australia has been a beneficiary and partner of Landsat since the early 1970s. Landsat data has been instrumental in predicting and responding to natural disasters such as cyclones and bushfires.

Landsat Next will add three more satellites to the existing eight operational satellites, providing more frequent and higher-resolution data. The new satellites will improve image resolution and increase the number of spectral bands, allowing for better tracking of water quality and temperature measurements. This will benefit various sectors, including agriculture and urban planning.

Australia is already a world leader in Earth observation data management, with excellent geography for collecting satellite data and a history of being custodians for international partners. The commitment to Landsat Next aligns with Australia’s planned National Space Mission for Earth Observation (NSMEO), which was canceled last year due to budget cuts. This commitment solidifies Australia’s position as an important partner in global Earth observation infrastructure.

With this agreement, Australia can contribute even more to Earth observation efforts and utilize satellite data for various sectors, further solidifying its role as a heavy user and contributor to Earth observation data.

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