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SmartSat & NZ Space Agency unite for space exploration growth
Wed, 31st Jan 2024

SmartSat, a space research centre in Australia, has announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the New Zealand Space Agency (NZSA). The momentous partnership aims to propel growth in the space industries of both countries.

The collaborative initiative will devote its efforts to expanding new capabilities and expertise in the space sector. The primary focus will be on advancing innovation, research & development, and workforce development. The agreement was held at the NZSA headquarters in Wellington, with the memorandum handed over by Professor Andy Koronios, SmartSat CRC Chief Executive Officer, to Robyn Henderson, Acting Head of the New Zealand Space Agency.

As part of the deal, the New Zealand Government's Catalyst Fund will commit up to NZ $6 million. This fund will serve to support New Zealand researchers to participate in promising new joint research initiatives.

The research initiatives will cover diverse domains. ‘Earth Observation’ will serve to improve decision-making for land and sea-based environments, touching upon Natural Capital, Biosecurity, Crop Health, Pasture Condition, Emission Monitoring, South Pacific Synthetic Aperture Radar and Maritime Domain Awareness. The ‘Space Situational Awareness’ research will focus on developing better techniques to monitor the orbital environment. Examples of projects include Satping – spacecraft position and velocity and ID from the spacecraft and ground-sensor data processing and visualisations for anomalies and manoeuvre detections. Another area of focus will be ‘Optical Communications', the joint science work on adaptive optics will explore the coordination of a network of Australasian optical ground stations for enhanced space exploration.

Discussing the agreement, Professor Andy Koronios, SmartSat CRC Chief Executive Officer, stated: "We're delighted to sign this agreement with the New Zealand Space Agency. This partnership will enable us to join forces and harness our resources and expertise for several important projects. Earth Observation research plays a critical role in better understanding environmental challenges that pose significant risks to both our countries. The agriculture sector is crucial for both Australia and New Zealand, and improving sustainable practices through pasture mapping, human activity, and emission monitoring will be vital for current and future food security."

The Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, also expressed his approval of the MOU signing: "This agreement reaffirms our strong partnership with New Zealand. Not only do our nations share a unique geographic position, we are also aligned when it comes to using space technology and innovation to improve life here on Earth. Space is a global endeavour and by sharing knowledge and resources, we can create outcomes that benefit both our nations."