The International Charter Space and Major Disasters

Context

  • With Assam inundated by floods, several countries including China, Russia and France collaborated with India on sharing satellite images of the scale of inundation. As signatories to the The International Charter Space and Major Disasters, any of the 32 member countries can send a ‘request’ to activate the Charter. This would immediately trigger a request by the coordinators to space agencies of other countries whose satellites have the best eyes on the site of the disaster.
  • Based on an activation request by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on July 17, France’s National Centre for Space Studies, China National Space Administration and ROSCOSMOS of Russia shared satellite images of the flood situation in the districts of Dhubri, Marigaon, Barpeta, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur in Assam with ISRO’s National Remote Sensing Centre. ISRO’s CARTOSAT satellites too got the Indian space agency its own images.

‘Standard practice’

  • This was a “standard practice” and in the past ISRO too had provided information to other space agencies in response to similar requests. In August 2014, for instance, ISRO’s CARTOSAT shared images after an activation request from China after an earthquake struck Yunan province and killed 398.
  • Since 2000, when the Charter came into operation there have been about 600 activations and data from 61 satellites have helped with disaster operations in 125 countries.

About the charter

  • The International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” is a non-binding charter which provides for the charitable and humanitarian retasked acquisition of and transmission of space satellite data to relief organizations in the event of major disasters.
  • It was initiated by the European Space Agency and the French space agency CNES after the UNISPACE III conference held in Vienna, Austria in July 1999.
  • Since 2000, when the Charter came into operation there have been about 600 activations and data from 61 satellites have helped with disaster operations in 125 countries.
  • Charter addresses both natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, forest fires, landslides, tsunamis, ocean storms, volcanic eruptions and man made disasters like oil spills and industrial accidents.
  • India has signed the charter in 2001.

Source:TH