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UN Office for Outer Space Affairs opens office in Israel

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The Regional Support Office will be located in Ben-Gurion University’s Earth and Planetary Image Facility and is set to be the 25th branch UNOOSA has opened across the world

By ILANIT CHERNICK

In an exciting development for space research and collaboration, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is opening an office in Israel.

Last week, UNOOSA and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which confirmed that UNOOSA would be opening a Regional Support Office as part of the UN’s program for its Platform for Space-Based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER).

The Regional Support Office will be located in BGU’s Earth and Planetary Image Facility (EPIF) and is set to be the 25th branch UNOOSA has opened across the world. 

“EPIF is responsible for multi-disciplinary satellite and airborne remote sensing scientific research for environmental applications, including advancing and developing remote sensing methods”

According to BGU and UNOOSA, the UN-SPIDER’s worldwide branches are regional or national centers of expertise that collaborate with UN-SPIDER on its technical advisory support, capacity building and outreach for leveraging space for disaster risk reduction, in their region and beyond. 

“This network allows UN-SPIDER to take advantage of the significant experience and capabilities offered by Member States to promote the use of space tools for disaster risk reduction all over the world,” they said, adding that this brings “precious expertise on satellite technology to the network.”

For Prof. Dan G. Blumberg, vice president of Ben-Gurion University’s regional and industrial development, this is “an exciting moment where we will be making our long-term scientific knowledge available to support relief efforts when needed. 

“Our ability to observe Earth from Space and rapidly analyze complex imagery is being put to good use worldwide, mitigating disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, drought and others,” he stressed. “We wish our University and UNOOSA a fruitful collaboration on capacity building and training in this very important field.”

Commenting on this momentous occasion, Israel Space Agency Director-General, Avi Blasberger made it clear that the Israel Space Agency “has committed significant resources to increase Israeli involvement in this activity. 

“We are pleased to see the seeds of our efforts taking root and we wish Ben-Gurion University every success,” he said.

EPIF Laboratory director Dr. Shimrit Maman highlighted that as part of the collaboration, “we have additional agreements in the field of disaster management, such as one with South Korea, and we expect more in the future to further our efforts towards this important goal.”

Speaking about the collaboration, UNOOSA director Simonetta Di Pippo said she was “delighted to see UN-SPIDER’s network of Regional Support Offices continuously growing.” 

This, she said, adds “diverse, top-class expertise to its resources and allowing the sharing of knowledge on a global scale. 

“Through the RSOs, our work to help countries leverage space tools to counteract disasters is scaled up to improve the lives of more people worldwide,” she concluded.

Through the Memorandum of Understanding, UNOOSA and EPIF will work together in several areas, including emergency response management, capacity-building on space-based technologies for disaster management and the dissemination of methods and results from Earth observation.

BGU’s EPIF is also a regional NASA partner.

*Featured Image: UNOOSA’s Dr. Shirish Ravan, left, with BGU’s EPIF’s Dr. Shimrit Maman, center, and Prof. Dan Blumberg, right, during a pre-Corona meeting. (Photo Credit: Courtesy)

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