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Vietnam Explores Using Small Satellites to Build Capacity in Earth Observation

Image credit: VNSC

Vietnam discussed potential plans and roadmaps to build national capacity in Earth observation using small satellite systems during a seminar held by the Vietnam National Space Centre (VNSC). Studies jointly conducted by the VNSC, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) found that developing small satellites will work the best for Vietnam.

Last February, the government announced a strategy for the development and application of aerospace science and technology by 2030. The aim was to utilise achievements in the fields to address defence and security issues, strengthen the management of the environment and natural resources, monitor natural disasters and minimise their impacts, and provide related services. The seminar forms part of the efforts to translate the strategy into reality.

Japanese experts believe that Vietnam is in an advantageous position to expand the use of new satellite technologies to ASEAN and Asia-Pacific. The combination of Vietnam’s ground infrastructure and satellites and Japan’s technologies and services is critical to opening more opportunities for the use of satellite data for both sides. Multi-layered capacity-building programmes, which encourage the participation of the private sector in aerospace, can also help Vietnam make big steps in automation and enable more sectors to reap benefits from satellite data.

Many other countries around the world are leveraging satellites in Earth observation activities. In April, China announced it would be sending a satellite to do an in-depth study to address Earth’s drastic climate changes. The AES is a 2.6-metric ton satellite and was launched by a Long March 4C carrier rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi province. Accordingly, it entered a sun-synchronous orbit 705 kilometres above Earth. The satellite is designed to observe the planet’s health from above. It is the world’s first satellite using laser radar to detect carbon dioxide.

After in-orbit tests, the Atmospheric Environmental Surveyor (AES) satellite would monitor operations and send data to scientists. AES focuses on studying different key aspects of the planet’s health. It also observes air pollution, greenhouse gases, and other environmental elements. It provides data for research on climate change and ecological changes and will help to forecast agricultural yields and hazards.

More recently, in June, the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) led a collaboration between the Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) and Singapore Land Authority (SLA) in using the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) data for scientific studies. The project will provide researchers with valuable data to contextualise more accurate projections to augment Singapore’s climate change response. As OpenGov Asia reported, using precise positioning technology like SLA’s SiReNT can help with more than just positioning and mapping. It can also open a lot of new ways to deal with the increasingly complicated problems caused by climate and environmental changes.

With the combined knowledge of SLA and EOS, the researchers want to use the rich historical data to co-create solutions for a new era of predicting and preparing for coastal and land changes to help Singapore deal with and lessen the effects of climate change.

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