Monday, October 10, 2016

Chinese Research "Road Map," ISRO News, New Approaches to Mars Research & "Democratizing" Earth Observation

          By Brian Orlotti

Here are a few of the international stories currently being tracked for the Commercial Space blog:

China's latest Mars probe design. as portrayed by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) designs released in August 2016. As outlined in the Aug 26th, 2016 Future Post article, "China Finally Unveiled The Rover They’re Sending to Mars in 2020,"  the mission "will initially go into orbit around Mars before deploying a lander that will touch down in the low latitudes of Mars’ northern hemisphere, where the rover will explore the surface," and hunt for water. Photo c/o People's Daily Online.

  • The Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources has released a 5-year road map of geological research in Earth's polar regions, the Moon and Mars. As outlined in the October 10th, 2016 CRJEnglish post, "China to upgrade geological probe on moon, Mars," the road map will see emphasis on studying the chemical composition, gravity, magnetism and internal structure of the Moon. In addition, the road map outlines other projects including the building of terrestrial analogs to the Moon and Mars for research purposes. China’s unveiling of the road map is a follow-on to its August announcement of a Mars probe consisting of an orbiter, lander and rover.
  • Speaking of Mars exploration, NASA has decided it needs a new approach to studying Mars. As outlined in the October 6th, 2016 post, "NASA rethinks approach to Mars exploration," after 2020, scientists who participate in NASAs’ Mars missions "may no longer design and build their own highly specialized payloads to explore the red planet. Instead, planetary scientists could operate much like astronomers who use large telescopes do now: applying for time to use spacecraft built by private companies with generic suites of scientific instruments." The proposed change is being spurred by NASA’s waning budgets as well as the rise of the commercial space industry and new space faring nations. This change will certainly effect the methodologies of national space agencies like Canada, who wish to partner with NASA on future planetary science missions such as the one described in the September 26th, 2016 post, "The REAL Reason Why Canada Won't Be Participating in the NASA Resolve Mission Anytime Soon, Probably!"
  • Back on Earth, environmentalists are coming up with some interesting, political uses for Earth imaging satellites. As outlined in the October 4th, 2016 UrtheCast blog post In a blog post "How Democratized Earth Observation Data Can Radically Change Environmental Debates," Vancouver, BC based Urthecast has begun making the case that the democratization of satellite technology and public access to scientific data will allow more transparency in environmental debates as well as increase public buy in for large resource development projects. An example of this would be Global Fishing Watch (GFW) a free service that utilizes satellite imagery to enable the public to monitor global fishing activity in an attempt to curb illegal fishing and rebuild depleted fish stocks, which was last described in the September 19th, 2016 post, "New Leonardo DiCaprio App Tracks Fishy Things on the High Seas."
For updates on these stories and others, check out future posts in the Commercial Space blog.
Brian Orlotti.

Brian Orlotti is a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

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