The two biggest space agencies in the world are coming together to tackle climate change like never before.
On Tuesday, NASA and the European Space Agency, known as ESA, formed the first strategic partnership to observe Earth and its changing environment.
“Climate change is an all-hands-on deck, global challenge that requires action – now,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
NASA and ESA have partnered for years on earth science missions such as the ocean observing satellite, called Sentinel 6 Michael Freilich, which launched in November from California . But now the space agencies are going all-in on climate change collaboration.
“This is a massive step-up from anything we’ve ever done,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA, told Florida Today of the USA TODAY. “It’s more strategic, multi-mission, multi-science as opposed to just mission by mission which is how we’ve worked before.”
The new agreement will involve developing Earth-observing satellites together and focusing on specific areas to study such as the history of ice cover and how melting permafrost releases methane into the atmosphere.
“Without doubt, space is the best vantage point to measure and monitor climate change, but joining forces is also key to tackling this global issue. This is why today’s agreement between our organizations is so crucial,” ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said in a statement.
President Joe Biden has made climate change a major focus of his administration and tasked NASA with leading the charge on space-based climate research.
“The best way to understand our climate as an interconnected system is from space which is why we’re so passionate about it,” Zurbuchen said.
Soon after Biden took office, NASA created a new role of senior climate advisor in an effort to ensure effective fulfillment of the administration’s climate science objectives and, in May, NASA joined the White House’s National Climate Task Force.
Contact Rachael Joy Nail at 321-242-3577. Follow her on Twitter @Rachael_Joy.
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: NASA, European Space Agency join forces to study climate change
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