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South Korea And United States Agree To Share Satellite Data On Pollution

The Korean Peninsula photographed from the International Space Station at night. Photograph courtesy of NASA.

South Korea and the United States have agreed to share data from their respective geostationary environmental pollution-monitoring satellites as part of a growing global effort to monitor the Earth’s climate and pollution emissions.

The countries will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this week on joint use of data from these satellites, which are scheduled to be launched in 2020, according to a report from the Yonhap News Agency.

Specifically, the agreement will be signed between the National Institute of Environmental Research in South Korea and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and it will be signed separately in Seoul and Washington on consecutive days.

The Korean institute affiliated with the environment ministry is developing a geostationary air quality-monitoring satellite, called the Geostationary Environmental Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS). NASA and the European Union are planning on launching other pollution-monitoring instruments, named  TEMPO and Sentinel 4, respectively. These satellites will then be launched into geostationary orbit at approximately 36,000 kilometres above the Equator.

Under the agreement, the institute and NASA will analyze datasets provided by their respective satellites, GEMS and TEMPO, and share their findings.

The GEMS, TEMPO and Sentinel 4 satellites will monitor air pollution over Northeast Asia, North America, and Europe and Africa, respectively.

By 2019, the Korean ministry will invest more than 150 billion won (U.S.$132.86 million) into the development of the satellites, which started back in 2012.


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