Earth & Space Week 2005: Celebrating our planet while reaching for the stars

1 February 2005

ESA PR 07-2005. From 12 to 20 February, world leaders, policy makers and space experts will gather in Brussels for a week packed with events organised with a view to the 3rd Earth Observation Summit - taking place for the first time in Europe - and a major conference on international cooperation in space.

Earth and Space Week 2005 is being organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the European Space Agency.

The International Earth Observation Summit on 16 February will help shape future Earth observation capabilities and applications and increase cooperation in space, especially vis-à-vis the developing world.

Better coordinated observation systems could save lives and preserve resources. The recent Asian tsunami, which spread devastation across twelve countries and led to the loss of over 180 000 lives, tragically underlines the increasing importance of anticipation, planning and response.

Being able to survive such ordeals calls for systems that can forewarn decision-makers and the public, thus reducing the chances of natural hazards turning into major disasters. In all, 55 nations, 30 international organisations, the European Commission and the European Space Agency are involved in a drive to establish a network of comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable systems for observing the Earth and sharing scientific data.

Darfur flooding
Charter map of Darfur flooding

The foundations for a Global Earth Observation System of Systems will be laid on 16 February with the approval of a Ten-Year Implementation Plan to create a GEOSS. Proponents believe the System could reduce famine, eliminate epidemics and save lives in future.

On 16 February, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will sign the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters". JAXA will thus become a backer of this initiative, which aims at providing a unified system of space data acquisition and delivery to those affected by natural or man-made disasters. Each member has committed resources to support the provisions of the Charter, helping to mitigate the impact of such disasters on human life and property.

On 17-18 February, addressing the theme “Winning through Cooperation: Sharing the Benefits of Space”, an International Conference on Cooperation in Space will bring together space experts from all space-faring agencies. This event will highlight the shared gains from international cooperation on space programmes, assess the scope for new avenues for cooperation and consider the role the European space programme – currently being planned in the framework of the European Space Council (see ESA Press Release N° 62-2004) - could play in strengthening international cooperation.

ISS

A live link-up with the astronauts currently on board the International Space Station will open the conference proceedings. This will be followed by keynote speeches by ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and EC Vice President Günter Verheugen.

Earth and Space Week 2005 will on 17 February also play host to a European International Space Station Business Club (IBC) workshop on “ISS & Beyond”. Speakers from ESA, national space agencies and industry will focus on the European space exploration programme and the opportunities it could open up for companies in this area.

An Earth and Space Exhibition will run from 12 to 20 February at Autoworld. With entrance free of charge, the over 3000m2 of attractive exhibits and visual information will allow visitors of all ages to enjoy and share the most exciting successes of European space activities.

A special media programme has been set up for journalists attending the various events. There will be extensive interview opportunities with policy makers, experts and European astronauts. A theme-based media briefing day on Earth observation is also planned.

Media Highlights:

- 11 February 2005 - Inauguration, Earth & Space Expo (Autoworld, Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels). Join ESA, the European Commission and senior officials and dignitaries for a sneak preview.

- 12 February, 10–11 a.m. - "Planet Earth Seen from Above" A breakfast-time discussion (Earth & Space Expo, Autoworld, Parc du Cinquantenaire). European Astronauts will share their experiences and bring to life the beauty and fragility of the planet as seen from the unique perspective of space.

- 15 February 2005 - Theme-based media briefings (Earth & Space Expo, Autoworld, Parc du Cinquantenaire). Get insights into why Earth observation is vital for the environment, world security and our daily lives. Experts from European and international organisations working in the field will discuss their activities. At the end of each briefing, the floor will be open for a Q&A session.

- 16 February 2005 - Earth Observation Summit (Palais d’Egmont, Brussels). Ministers and senior officials from around the world will meet for the historic approval and presentation of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) Ten-Year Implementation Plan.

- 16 February 2005 - (6 p.m., Autoworld, Parc du Cinquantenaire). JAXA to sign the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters".

- 17-18 February 2005 - International Conference on Cooperation in Space (Charlemagne Building, Brussels). Senior space agency officials, space industry representatives and delegates from government agencies around the globe will discuss new avenues for international cooperation on space and major disasters, space and development, space science and how the future European space programme can play a role.

- 17 February 2005, 2–6 p.m. - IBC "ISS & Beyond" (Earth & Space Expo, Autoworld, Room Mahy). First European International Space Station Business Club.

- 12 to 20 February - Earth & Space Expo (admission 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends at Autoworld, Parc du Cinquantenaire). Free, suitable for all ages. Aimed at raising interest and awareness in terrestrial and space issues. The over 3000m2 exhibition area will offer a fascinating voyage of discovery across our planet and beyond.

To register to attend the Earth & Space Week 2005 media events, please visit the online press centre.

For information on the media programme and activities:

Boris Kandziora, Press and Information Officer
Directorate-General Research
Tel: +32.2.296.96.29
Email: boris.kandziora@cec.eu.int

Simonetta Cheli, Head of Institutional Relations
ESA/ESRIN
Tel + 39 06 9418 0350

Franco Bonacina, Head of Media Relations
ESA, Paris
Tel + 33 1 5369 7713

To register to attend Earth & Space Week media events, contact:

Mónica Vicente Cristina (print press only)
Hill & Knowlton International
Tel: +32.2.739.16.71
Email: mcristin@hillandknowlton.com

Gérald Alary (audiovisual media only)
DDB Focus Europe - working under European Commission contract for this event
Tel: +32.2.761.20.29
Email: gerald.alary@ddb.be

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