Press Releases

    20 February 2002


    VIENNA, 20 February (UN Information Service) – Remote satellite sensing will be the topic of two symposia due to take place during the annual session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in Vienna.

    "Remote sensing" satellites can monitor in detail many characteristics of the land surface, the oceans and the atmosphere – and how all of these change over time. Remote sensing is now a routine and essential tool in fields like environmental monitoring, natural resource management, weather forecasting, and disaster assessment.

    The first symposium on "Remote sensing for substantive water management in arid and semi-arid areas", organized by two international scientific associations, the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), will take place on 25 and 26 February 2002, between 4 and 6pm at Conference Room III, Vienna International Centre. Leading experts will present an overview of how remote sensing can improve water management practices, including experiences from developing countries such as Brazil, China, India, Morocco and Pakistan.

    Remote sensing is a regular part of water management efforts both in the industrialized world and in developing countries. Remote sensing satellites can monitor or predict sources of water such as rainfall and snowmelt. They can also monitor how water is being used; for instance, satellite maps are often the most cost-effective way to monitor irrigation patterns, including illegal irrigation, and can help to measure agricultural output in irrigated areas. Another feature of water that can be detected from space is its quality, for instance its sediment load and harmful effects from fertilizers.

    The second, an Industry Symposium on "Expanding Operational Applications of Very-High Resolution Remote Sensing: Potential and Challenges in Civilian Applications" will take place on 4 March 2002, between 11am-1pm and 4-6pm at Conference Room III, Vienna International Centre.

    The era of very-high resolution commercial imagery began with the launch of the Ikonos satellite in September 1999. Recent launches have increased the competition in very-high resolution commercial images with resolutions up to 0.61m, the capability of the QuickBird-2 satellite launched in October 2001. Very-high resolution data are designed to satisfy requirements for high accuracy and frequent coverage, in fields such as natural resource management, precision agriculture and forestry, as well as hazard monitoring and disaster assessment.

    Speakers will discuss the new market in very-high resolution remote sensing data. They will review commercially available services and products that use very-high resolution remote sensing, and identify target markets in the civilian sphere. In particular, the symposium will examine the potential of very-high resolution remote sensing to meet the needs of developing countries and to support social and economic development.

    If you would like to attend either of these symposia, please contact to obtain security clearance for the Vienna International Centre.

    The programme for the first symposium is available at